Tourist arrivals in the country via cruise ships could grow as much as 15 to 20 percent with the construction of a new international cruise terminal in Manila under the current administration, a Department of Tourism (DOT) official has said.
“Our target is to grow by at least 15 to 20 percent when everything is in place,” DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said in an interview.
Bengzon said the department does not have an estimate on how the construction of the new terminal will directly impact the volume of overall tourist arrivals since 99 percent came in by plane and the remaining one percent came in through cruise ships in the past years.
Nevertheless, he emphasized that cruise tourism remains a priority, as there is a greater interest in various ports for ship calls.
Last March, the DOT rolled out a National Cruise Tourism Development Strategy to attract the interest of cruise lines to visit the Philippines.
The plan identifies the Turquoise Triangle that links Manila, Boracay, and Puerto Princesa with other cruise destinations.
Bengzon said that concerned government agencies have yet to map out a timeline for the construction of the terminal but that updates are expected sometime between December 8 and 14.
“By the second week of December, we will have a cruise development workshop. The objective is to flesh out the details of the cruise development plan and determine how we can address issues,” Bengzon said.
The workshop will also tackle how to improve the shore excursions in the ports mentioned and review the policy framework to make it easier for cruise lines to call port in the country.
Although there have been a number of proposals for new cruise port facilities in Manila, no firm plans have been made public so far.
In September, Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc., the developer and operator of the Okada Manila resort complex, said that it plans to build a port facility with the capacity to accommodate “small to 50-footer yachts and several cruise ships,” after reportedly being approached by several cruise lines interested in adding the Philippines to their destinations.
The developer did not provide further details, however, saying that the plan was simply “on the table” as part of Phase 2 of the resort complex’s development, which would depend on the performance of the soon to be completed Phase 1.
Last year, 52 cruise ships called port in the Philippines carrying 69,802 passengers, which was 16 percent higher than the 60,183 passengers brought in by 40 cruise ships in 2014.