Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority eyes 7-M Asian cruise travelers

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has set its sights on the projected surge of Asian cruise travelers in the next five years through joining pioneering industry players in the region to market Asia as one cruise destination.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza said Subic has signified its intention to capitalize on the growing cruise market by joining the Asia Cruise Terminal Association (ACTA).

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority
The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority

“We’re banking on positive industry projections for this growing market niche, now that the global economic crisis has been hurdled,” Arreza said.

“As a regional organization, ACTA could well deliver the numbers to help push the local tourism industry,” he said.

ACTA was formed in July last year under the initiative of the Singapore Cruise Centre Pte Ltd. (SCC) and the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Development Company as a joint effort among member countries to tap Asia’s growth potential and develop the area into the “Caribbean of the East.”

Since its incorporation, ACTA has attracted 12 cruise terminal operators as members.

These include Shanghai Wusongkou, Xiamen, and Yantai in China; Incheon and Busan in Korea; Kobe, Osaka, and Sakaiminato in Japan; Keelung in Taiwan; Danang in Vietnam; SCC in Singapore; and Subic Bay in the Philippines.

Raul Marcelo, SBMA deputy administrator for tourism and chairman of the Subic Bay Cruise Ship Committee (SBCSC), said Subic will be represented in the organization by Rose Baldeo, president and CEO of Global Terminals and Development Inc., the operator of the only passenger terminal in Subic Bay.

Global Terminals, which also operates the high-end Segara Villas resort near Subic’s Alava Pier, now has the capability and the facilities to serve visiting cruise ships, Marcelo noted.

ACTA’s move to develop the Asian cruise market was bolstered lately by projections among industry experts that the region is set to experience an unprecedented growth as more cruise liners set their sights on Asia following a turnaround of the global economy after the recent financial crisis.

The optimism was further buoyed by the growing middle class in Asia, said Ronnie Yambao, head of the Manufacturing and Maritime Department of the SBMA’s Business and Investment Group, who attended the ACTA plenary session in Singapore last December.

“As more members of the Asian middle class fly out to the United States and the Caribbean for cruises, ACTA forecasts that the cruise industry in the region may attract as much as seven million passengers per year.

That is about three times the number that was projected in 2005,” Yambao said.

In anticipation of the growth potential and as a direct response to the challenge of making Asia a more attractive “cruise playground”, ACTA will be formally launched in March 2011 in Shanghai, China, Yambao added.

ACTA members are also preparing for joint marketing drives and training workshops, as well as a continuing program for the exchange of information on best practices.

At the same time, ACTA members have began upgrading tourism facilities and services to meet market demands.

These include Shanghai Wusongkou, which is set to complete China’s largest cruise terminal early this year; Inchon, which plans to finish a new terminal for Korea in 2014, in time for the next Asian Games; and Danang, which has drawn plans for a new ferry and cruise terminal in Vietnam.

Similarly, a new international cruise terminal is expected for completion in Singapore at the end of 2011, and in Hong Kong in 2013.

Yambao also said that in a separate initiative, the SBMA has invited officials of Star Cruise Pte Ltd. to visit the Subic Bay Freeport and help assess the requirements to make it a viable cruise destination.

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