These cruise ports will allow more access to the Philippines and encourage more shorter itineraries from North Asian markets like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan,
MANILA – The Philippines is eyeing a bigger slice of Asia’s ever-expanding cruise-tourism industry.
The country’s tourism undersecretary Benito Bengzon told Bloomberg that Philippines’ geographical advantage – the country of 7,000 islands are close to the water bodies – means there is “great potential in cruise tourism”.
“While our Asian neighbours have the advantage of a regional land connectivity, our archipelago is ideal for cruise tourism,” Mr Bengzon was quoted as saying.
Tourism accounted for 12.7% of the Philippines’ gross domestic product in 2018, already beating the government’s goal of 10% by 2022. Government officials are raising the targets in the country’s tourism development plan.
More ports will be built and officials are looking at cruise tourism as a key source of arrivals.
At a recent trade show, government officials and representatives of major cruise lines discussed the possibility of adding the Philippines to Asian itineraries from 2020.
The Philippines’ cruise strategy focuses on Manila, Boracay and Puerto Princesa, as well as potential new destinations in the northern part of Luzon, the country’s main island, according to the Bloomberg report.
Salomague Port in Ilocos Sur province, scheduled to open this month, will receive Royal Caribbean Cruises’ biggest ship, “Spectrum of the Seas”, in Asia in December. The mammoth vessel will return again in January and February.
In April 2021, Manila’s first cruise-dedicated port is scheduled to open at the Solaire Cruise Centre.
“These cruise ports will allow more access to the Philippines and encourage more shorter itineraries from North Asian markets like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan,” Mr Bengzon said.
Tourism has been growing steadily in the Philippines in recent years, reaching 7.2 million visitors last year and 4.85 million in the first seven months of 2019. The government has a target of about 8.2 million visitors for 2019 and 12 million by the end of 2022. But the numbers are a far cry from South-east Asian neighbour Thailand, which expects more than 40 million tourists this year.