MANILA, Philippines – The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) called on shipping companies to acquire and operate cruise ships in the country to help promote tourism on Wednesday, August 29.
“We are encouraging companies to operate cruise ships in the Philippines,” Marina administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero said. “By kick-starting the cruise shipping industry, we aim to advance local maritime industry through the boosting of Philippine tourism.”
Marina has set policies for accreditating cruise ships which will be implemented beginning September, and the agency assured that it will be “uncompromising in regulating the industry.”
Accreditation from the governing authority are reserved only for cruise ships that were operational for not more than 20 years. All ships must also be classed by the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to “warrant adherence to technical standards and requirements, ensuring maritime safety and environmental protection.”
While ships are required to be manned by Filipino seafarers only, Marina said it was “open for granting special permits” to foreign cruise ships who want to engage in the industry especially in areas unserved local ships.
The Philippines is no stranger to the cruise shipping industry.
Last March, the Manila South Harbor has recorded the biggest number of docked international cruise ships following the arrivals of SuperStar Virgo of Star Cruises, Costa Atlantica of Costa Cruises, Amsterdam of Holland America Lines, and Silver Shadow of Silversea Cruises.
The increase in arrivals have also brought about a surge in the number of tourists entering the country.
Local cruise tours, such as Sun Cruises, Prestige Cruises, and Silver Discoverer of Silversea Cruises, also offer island-to-island tour packages.
According to a report by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), passenger traffic from both local and international cruise ships docking across the country amounted to a total of 254,311 passengers as of June 2018.
The Department of Tourism has also eyed the launching of cruise and drive circuits in Western Visayas to lure more visitors in the region after the shutdown of Boracay, one of the hottest tourism spots in the country.
In a statement earlier this year, the PPA said it was currently working on several infrastructure projects to improve and develop international cruise line terminals in areas that drive the most traffic such as Davao, Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Metro Manila, Puerto Princesa, Subic, and Zamboanga.
The 6-year National Tourism Development Plan also targeted plans to develop the cruising industry in the country. Some initiatives include advanced passenger information system, electronic visa and visa-upon-arrival processing, new air services in international gateways, and the simplification of port immigration and quarantine policies. (READ: PH gov’t to invest $23B in tourism infrastructure) –Rappler.com