Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Subic eyed as cruise ship destination

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — This Freeport Zone might become the first stopover of cruise ship liners in the Philippines as the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) becomes a founding member of the Asian Cruise Terminals Association (ACTA), a newly-formed group that will provide a consolidated marketing platform for the cruise ship industry in Asia.

According to SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, “The SBMA is the only founding member from the Philippines, thereby giving it a great opportunity to build a solid business network with ACTA-member countries.”

Arreza said that the member countries are composed of China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, and India.

“Joining ACTA is a strategic move for the SBMA, as we are targeting the major players in the industry to make Subic part of their cruise itinerary,” Arreza said.

“Once Subic has been established as the next cruise ship playground, the economic impact will trickle down to local businesses in terms of providing supplies, fuel, food, and even manpower,” he said.

Among the cruise lines that may include Subic in their itinerary under the ACTA platform include the Star Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Silver Seas, and Costa Crocere.

“These are all known as key players in the industry,” Arreza noted.

The SBMA’s membership in ACTA would also enable the Subic Bay Freeport to develop a different tourist market niche, said SBMA deputy administrator for business Raul Marcelo.

Marcelo, along with SBMA maritime investment department head Ronnie Yambao, was recently in Singapore for the organizational meeting of ACTA, a non-profit organization that was the brainchild of the Singapore Cruise Centre Pte. Ltd. (SCCPL).

Marcelo said that after the SBMA's presentation on what the Subic Bay Freeport has to offer, SCCPL vice president Ivan Ng expressed confidence that Subic would pass the standards for a cruise ship destination.

“With the port infrastructure, deep natural harbor, support facilities, security, and tourist attractions, I am now convinced – and this strengthens the business case for Subic – that indeed, it is ready to play a key role in the cruise ship industry," Ng was quoted as saying.

"We are glad that SBMA will be one of the founding members of ACTA, as we have only chosen one port in the Philippines and that is Subic Bay Freeport,” Ng added.

Marcelo said that joining the meeting also allowed the SBMA group to benchmark from the SCCPL, which handles about nine million passengers annually.

“It’s learning from the best of the best in terms of passenger handling, formulating waterfront development plans to integrate with the passenger terminal, technology, marketing activities and maintaining the momentum of the cruise ship market growth,” Marcelo described the experience.

ACTA, which is set to be launched in January next year, is primarily expected to provide members with a platform for regional cooperation in terminal development, operations and management. By JONAS REYES - mb.com.ph

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