Philippines adopts National Cruise Tourism Strategy

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) has completed its first Cruise Tourism Development Strategy under the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Ted Blamey, Principal of CHART Management Consultants was tapped by USAID and DOT to lead the team in undertaking an extensive field work, interviews, analysis, and direction-setting in 2015 to finalize the cruise strategy. Joining him were CHART’s Associates, Capt. Luigi Nappa and Rod Davies.

To date, the Philippines has largely been undiscovered, with its more than 7,000 islands providing many excellent opportunities for cruise tourism. The Philippines offers rich diversity – from ancient Spanish heritage, culture and history through bustling metropolitan centers to pristine beaches and stunning scenery. “We also boast of world-class shopping, dining, gaming, and perhaps the warmest welcomes on the planet,” said Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon, Jr. who heads the newly formed Cruise Tourism Committee for the Philippines.

In 2015, the Philippines attracted 52 port calls for an 18 percent rise from last year’s total of 44. Cruise passenger volume also rose to 69,802 in 2015, up 16 percent from 60,183 passengers in full-year 2014. The growth in cruise tourism in the country is attributed to the strong support from the government and private sectors, as well as the enthusiasm of major cruise lines to visit not only one island, but several islands across the Philippine archipelago.

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“As a key element of the strategy, we are determined to build new dedicated cruise facilities, most especially in Manila. A superior cruise port and terminal in the capital, with its extensive airlift and ground facilities, will create a compelling reason for large ships to spend time in the Philippines. Once here, they can achieve outstanding port density with efficient cruising speeds,” said Undersecretary Bengzon.

The Cruise Strategy also identified developments in the Turquoise Triangle that linking the popular tourist destinations of Manila, Boracay, and Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The potential for new cruise destinations in the north of Luzon, where ships departing East Asian hubs can arrive the next day, has likewise been pinpointed in the plan.

“Developing the Philippines will be great for the Asian cruise industry” said Ted Blamey, CHART Principal. “As the mainstream Asian source markets begin to develop, slightly longer cruise durations will become popular. This is especially because they will allow much more diverse itineraries, offer distinctively different destinations and optimize winter deployment. The DOT is to be congratulated for their foresight in commissioning the strategy. It is perfect timing”, he added.

The Philippine Cruise Strategy project originated from the recommendation at the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Forum in Manila in 2014. “The active participation and sage advice of the CLIA members and the USAID executives was hugely beneficial. And without the enthusiastic support of many DOT executives and buy-in from the government and private sector, this work would not have been possible. The Philippines is going to be a cruise destination to watch!” said Mr. Blamey.

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