PH signs up for Asia Cruise Fund to push tourism
MANILA, Philippines–The Philippines has signed up for the Asia Cruise Fund (ACF), aimed at promoting regional cooperation in cruise tourism, amid surging growth of arrivals to the country.
Launched last April by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB), the initiative runs until April 2017 and requires cruise lines to deploy vessels to at least two participating ports or territories in a single itinerary.
Philippine participation starts in April 2015 while that of China’s Hainan province, the fourth territory to be covered by the ACF, starts this month.
The fund is made up of contributions from participating ports and will be used to subsidize cruise companies that will develop and market their cruise products.
In a joint statement from the ACF, Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. described the Philippines’ participation in the fund as a significant step to diversifying the region’s product offerings for various cruise markets and attracting more of the world’s growing cruise travel population.
“The Philippines is now experiencing the burgeoning Asian cruise business, attracting more and more cruise calls to its … island destinations,” Jimenez said.
“There has been a dramatic influx of cruise arrivals to the country with an average growth rate of 40 percent over the last two years, [and] which is expected to hit 50 percent by yearend,” he added.
According to the Department of Tourism, international cruise lines calling on the country increased to 16 cruise vessels in 2013 from 10 in 2011. For 2014, the DOT is expecting some 18 cruise ships that should bring in more than 20,000 tourists.
TTB director general Wayne Liu said the Philippines’ and Hainan’s joining in the cooperation fund will transform the alliance from a single “line” between two places to an entire “area.”
“We are confident that by linking the unique features of these four destinations, we will enrich the content of the Asian packages offered by cruise operators and strengthen their confidence in the Asian market,” Liu said.
“This will expand the scale and boost the competitiveness of this market, and further brighten the prospects of tourism in Asia,” Lui added.
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