Full steam ahead for cruise travel in PH; PPA bullish
MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) expects the number of cruise ship passengers who will visit the Philippines this year to nearly double, as the leisure cruise segment continues to ride on the momentum generated from its return last year.
“By year 2024, the PPA is expecting an 89-percent increase in cruise ship passenger statistics or around 165,000 expected cruise ship passengers,” the PPA told the Inquirer.
Leisure sails were halted for about three years because of the pandemic-induced mobility restrictions.
As the economy opened up, cruise ships sailed to local docks last year.
The PPA registered last year the movement of over 87,000 cruise ship passengers, most of whom visited southern Luzon, Manila and northern Luzon.
But while the PPA expects a healthy increase in arrivals this year, the total number is still markedly below the prepandemic level of 213,765 passengers in 2019.
Nevertheless, the PPA is bullish about the continued growth of leisure cruise travel this year.
Last month, MV Vasco Da Gama, a ship operated by German cruise line Nicko Cruises, docked at four terminals in the country. Its first stop was in Manila then it went to Coron, Puerto Princesa and Bohol.
The ship was boarded by 650 mostly German passengers and 500 crew members. After visiting the Philippines, the ship sailed on to Indonesia and Australia.
The Manila South Harbor port also welcomed MS Westerdam of Holland America Lines last month. It had 1,960 tourists from the United States, Canada and Netherlands and 777 crew members.
The ports regulator said it was expecting more cruise ship dockings in Palawan, northern Luzon, Bohol, Misamis as well as Leyte and Samar.
With the resurgence of leisure sails, PPA seeks to develop more cruise terminals in Palawan, Siargao, Camiguin, Boracay and Puerto Galera.
In total, the PPA saw its passenger traffic surge by 24 percent to 73.61 million last year from 59.19 million in 2022. However, this was still below the 2019 level of 83.72 million passengers.
But cargo throughput grew by about 5 percent to 271.97 million metric tons last year from 259.14 million MT in 2022, surpassing the prepandemic volume of 265.88 million MT. INQ