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Subic Bay cruise tourism program yields P261 million in last 20 months

Regions01 101019
File photo shows Chinese tourists from MS Costa Atlantica at Subic’s Waterfront Road upon arrival on October 1 2019.

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The steady influx of tourists aboard cruise ships docking in the Subic Bay Freeport has generated about P261 million in direct and indirect revenues in the last 20 months.

Figures released by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) indicated that a total of 34 cruise ships arrived in this free port since February 2018 when the Subic agency launched its cruise ship program.

The ship arrivals brought into this free port a total of 77,485 passengers, of whom 75,450 or 97.37 percent were Chinese, as well as a total of 39,607 crew members.

With these arrival figures, the SBMA Tourism Department said that Subic and the neighboring communities had earned some P129 million from the 19 cruise ship arrivals in 2018, broken down as: P45.75 million in direct revenues at the agency’s seaport and tourism offices, and P83.26 million in indirect revenues collected by theme parks, restaurants, buses and taxis, and other facilities and services used by cruise ship tourists.

Meanwhile, from the 15 cruise ship arrivals in the first nine months of 2019, SBMA Tourism Office computed an even higher gain of P132 million, with P7.94 million in direct revenues and P124.11 million in indirect income.

The growing income portends more income for Subic, as well as inclusive growth for Subic and the nearby communities with tourism attractions, SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said.

“Our cruise program has been picking up and, after logging more than 38,000 cruise visitors last year, as well as more than 39,000 from January 2 to October 1 this year, we expect to top these records with about 54,000 by the end of this year,” Eisma said.

Four cruise liners have so far arrived in Subic to bring in the more than 75,000 cruise passengers: MS Costa Atlantica of the Italian operator Costa Crociere, which logged in 22 arrivals; MV World Dream of the Hong Kong-based Dream Cruises with nine bookings; MV Superstar Gemini of Star Cruises, with two dockings; and, MS Ovation of the Seas of Royal Caribbean Cruise, which visited once.

Eisma said Subic expects to continue getting this tourism bonanza, as the SBMA had so far listed 38 confirmed cruise ship arrivals and two tentative bookings for 2020, as well as four confirmed and one tentative schedules for 2021.

“Best of all, of the 40 bookings for next year, 15 are confirmed for overnight stay. This could only mean more tourism income for Subic and the nearby areas of Olongapo, Zambales, Bataan and even Pampanga,” she added.

Eisma pointed out that the overnight bookings were made possible after President Duterte signed Executive Order 72, which gave foreign nationals entering through Subic seaports a visa-free stay of 14 days. Previously, this privilege went only to those arriving via the Subic airport.

Eisma added that among the cruise ships set to arrive before the yearend is MS Spectrum of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean Cruises vessel that has booked 4,819 passengers for a December 27 trip to Subic.

Spectrum of the Seas will be back in Subic on January 20 next year with 4,819 passengers, while its sister cruise liner MS Quantum of the Seas will arrive with 4,905 tourists and 1,500 crew on February 28, according to the SBMA chairman.

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