ACTA to boost Subic’s cruise destination bid
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Subic Freeport’s bid to become the next cruise ship playground received a fresh boost recently with the formal launching of the Asian Cruise Terminals Association (ACTA), a group seeking to provide a unified marketing platform for the cruise ship industry in the Asian region.
According to Raul Marcelo, who is deputy administrator for business at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), cruise ship operators are expected to turn to Asian destinations as economies in Europe and the United States falter.
Marcelo, who represented the SBMA at the ACTA inauguration in Singapore, said that SBMA’s membership in the cruise terminal group would set the stage for Subic’s eventual establishment as a cruise ship destination.
“We have a very good reason to be optimistic about this, because not only does Subic have deep harbor and ports, it also has tourism facilities and tourism attractions. Then, Subic’s connectivity to other destinations in Luzon would also boost its potential as a good cruise terminal,” Marcelo said.
“With the formal launching of ACTA, Subic would have the network to bank on for support. We’d grow as ACTA grow,” he added.
Subic became a founding member of ACTA when it was organized last year by Singapore Cruise Centre Pte Ltd. (SCC) and other terminal operators in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka and India — the lone port to represent the Philippines.
The SBMA said that Subic’s entry into ACTA was a strategic move because the agency was targeting major players in the industry to make Subic part of their cruise itinerary.
After Subic has been established as a cruise ship destination, the economic impact will trickle down to local businesses in terms of providing supplies, fuel, food, and even manpower, the SBMA said.
Marcelo said the SBMA has made a strong impression for Subic when SCCPL vice president Ivan Ng and other ACTA officials visited Subic early this year and determined that it has all what it takes to be a cruise ship destination.
In particular, the cruise ship terminal operators noted Subic’s port infrastructure, deep natural harbor, support facilities, security, and tourist attractions.
With the launching of ACTA, Marcelo said that Subic stands to get a windfall from the cruise industry, which also eyes the growing number of wealthy Asians as a “source market.”
He added that other ACTA members have already announced plans to expand their facilities because of the expected inflow of more tourists. This is especially true with the Singapore Cruise Centre, which is in the midst of a S$14-million upgrade; Shanghai Wusongkou (WSK) International Cruise Terminal, which forecasts a passenger throughput of 300,000 in 2012 and 800,000 in 2016; Taiwan’s Port of Keelung, which sees a 460,000 throughput by the end of 2011 from 116,300 in 2006; and the Japanese port of Sakai, which has increased its passenger traffic by more than 10 times.
“With this optimism, we are more determined now to convert Subic into a destination for these Asian customers,” Marcelo said.
ACTA, which was initiated by SCC and WSK last year, is primarily expected to provide members with a platform for regional cooperation in terminal development, operations and management.
As a regional organization, ACTA is also geared to provide best practices in the cruise industry; promote the exchange of cruise-related data and information; upgrade the skills and knowledge of cruise terminal personnel; promote cooperation in marketing, operations and management; and develop and maintain close relationships with other organizations in the cruise industry. (30)