Philippines lays out cruising ambitions


DETERMINED to strengthen its position as a cruising destination, the Philippines will implement this year a development strategy put together by Sydney-based Chart Management Consultants and funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

It includes plans to upgrade Philippine’s ports, of which four were identified as priorities: Manila, Boracay, Subic and Puerto Princesa in Palawan, said undersecretary of the Philippine Department of Tourism, Benito Bengzon Jr.

Shore excursions in all destinations will have to be improved and marketing stepped up, Bengzon said during the sidelines of the PATA Philippine Chapter’s first general assembly last Thursday.

He added that promotional efforts are already in motion with the country’s participation in major cruise events in Miami and the Asia-Pacific, and with the publication of the first ever Philippine Cruise Guide in 2014.

Cruise passengers have been growing at an average rate of 50 per cent over the past three years, from 19,313 in 2013 to 32,382 in 2014 and to 35,236 in 2015. The target this year is 65,000.

As of press time, 21 cruise ships are expected to make 59 ports of call in the Philippines this year, with more to be expected. In 2015, 22 cruise ships made 70 ports of call in the country.

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