THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has identified eight ports as tourism gateways where it is considering developing international cruise terminals to support the tourism industry, the state-owned agency said.
The PPA justified the plan to develop cruise hubs – part of several infrastructure projects the agency has lined up to help boost tourism – saying they are vital as the Philippines has become one of the major cruise destinations in Asia.
“The Philippines welcomes this growing interest in cruise tourism in various strategic locations in the country,” PPA general manager Juan C. Sta. Ana said in his speech at a welcome ceremony for Star Cruises’ SuperStar Gemini. The vessel arrived at the Manila South Harbor on Oct. 18 as part of its inaugural cruise voyage to the Philippines launched from its home port in Xiamen, China.
Sta. Ana led government officials who welcomed the 50,764-ton luxury liner and its 1,500 mostly mainland Chinese guests at the Pier 15 Super Terminal. The call was a key stop in the ship’s voyage, which began on Oct. 11.
“In coordination and partnership with the Department of Tourism and other government agencies, we identified eight ports as tourism gateways aimed at developing international hubs for cruise liners that include Davao, Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Metro Manila, Puerto Princesa, Subic, and Zamboanga,” Sta. Ana said, adding these gateways “make up the nation’s major nautical cruise arteries.”
“In addition, we have lined up various port development programs for the development of cruise terminals. These include the Ports of Puerto Princesa, Currimao in Ilocos Norte and Catagbacan in Bohol Province,” Sta. Ana said.
The PPA said this is the first time the Philippines has been included in any major cruise package.
Several cruise calls have called at South Harbor since March 2010. They included a German cruise ship docking at the Iloilo Port; MV Princess Danae, a Portuguese luxury cruise ship, calling at Davao Port and, recently, the Royal Carribean’s Legend of the Seas docking at the Port of Puerto Princesa for the first time as part of the cruise ship’s seven-night “Borneo Explorer Cruise.”
SuperStar Gemini’s cruise package includes regular stops in Boracay and Manila.
The ceremony was attended by Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito C. Bengzon, Andrew Hoad, executive vice president of Asian Terminals Inc., which operates the South Harbor; and Star Cruises COO William Ng.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net