Cruise tourism needs optimum shipmix — Department of Tourism
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s cruise tourism industry needs to attract a good mix of expedition ships and bigger cruise ships in a bid to achieve a sweet spot between revenue and headcount, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

“As in the case of general tourism in the country, what we want to do is find that sweet spot to achieve that optimum mix between headcount and revenue,” Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon told reporters.

“So in that matter, we all know that the revenue per head per capita of passengers of expedition ships is higher than that of the bigger ships. But we need the bigger ships for the numbers. So what we want is to have that optimum balance,” he added.

Bengzon said the good thing about expedition ships is that they offer a low-density, high value kind of experience as these ships normally carry about 600 to 700 passengers, less crowded than the larger cruise ships.

“The expedition ships also have greater flexibility because the configuration of the ships, they can go to the smaller, more remote islands like Kalanggaman, Romblon, Hundred Islands,” Bengzon added.

Fernando Roxas, executive director of the Asian Institute of Management Andrew Tan Center for Tourism, earlier told The Star that the Philippines shows strong potential for the cruise tourism sector since the country is an archipelago.

This potential, however, poses a threat to the sustainability of the country’s island destinations.

“Cruise tourism will alter the magnitude of sustainability challenges to our frail archipelagic geography,” Roxas said.

“The government, led by DOT, must consider not just the marketing aspect of attracting these tourists.  Sustainable operations will be key,” he added.

The Philippines is aiming to develop its cruise tourism product with the implementation of the National Cruise Development Strategy (NCTDS).

Under the NCTDS, the country aims to have 656,635 cruise passengers from 300 ports of calls by the end of 2022.

In 2017, the Philippines welcomed 140 port of calls for a total of 114,437 cruise passengers.

Also under the strategy, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) has been designated by the DOT as the lead agency responsible in the construction and the development of a cruise-dedicated port in Manila and in other priority ports in the country to harness the potential of cruise tourism as an emerging tourism product and vital engine for tourism growth.

The TIEZA earlier said it is gaining traction with its efforts to develop the country’s first cruise port as it conducted stakeholder consultation meetings for the feasibility of the project.

The agency aims to develop a cruise port which is accessible to major tourist attractions in Metro Manila and its environs and provide a state-of-the-art cruise port which will feature a seafood market as well as various concessions.

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