Star Cruises seek­ing cab­o­tage law waiver to ex­pand cruis­ing routes here

Manila Bulletin - - Business - By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

Star Cruises, the first cruis­ing line to home­port in Manila for its LaoagKaoush­ing-Tai­wan route, said it may ask for a govern­ment waiver on the cab­o­tage law to ex­pand its ex­ist­ing route to other beau­ti­ful places in the coun­try.

Ang Moo Lim, Star Cruises pres­i­dent, said at the press con­fer­ence for the Manila home­port de­ploy­ment us­ing the Su­per­star Virgo, they also want to de­velop other routes once the cur­rent route proves to be suc­cess­ful.

How­ever, the ex­pan­sion of routes may be ham­pered by the ex­ist­ing rules on cab­o­tage which may bar them from pick­ing up pas­sen­gers in a sec­ond do­mes­tic port.

Given this sit­u­a­tion, Star Cruises may have to seek some waivers from govern­ment to al­low them to dock in other ports in the coun­try.

“It is im­por­tant that some waivers can be given even if only for one time only,” said Ang adding he will raise this is­sue with the De­part­ment of Tourism.

Aside from the cab­o­tage is­sue, Ang said he will also raise with the DOT the is­sue of in­fras­truc­ture not­ing that while there are many beau­ti­ful places in the coun­try if it does not have enough in­fras­truc­ture to sup­port cruis­ing they are not likely to call on th­ese ports. He cited tourism sup­port like fleet of buses to trans­port 2,000 pas­sen­gers at one time (DTO).

Tourism Un­der­sec­re­tary Maria Lour­des Jap­son said th­ese is­sues can be taken up by the DOT when they meet with the Bureau of Im­mi­gra­tion be­cause this is an im­mi­gra­tion is­sue and is very timely.

Jap­son ad­mit­ted that cruis­ing is one of the fastest grow­ing tourism sec­tor in the coun­try. Cruis­ing tourism has grown 52.5 per­cent in the past five years from 2012 to 2016. The DOT has al­ready recorded 117 cruise calls sched­uled this year with es­ti­mated for­eign pas­sen­ger count of 86,000.

“In terms of ar­rival, cruis­ing tourism is num­ber 2 and is ex­pected to fur­ther grow with the home­port­ing of Star Cruises,” she said.

Star Cruises is ex­pected to make 20 dock­ings this year at the Pier 15 in Manila. This is on top of var­i­ous expedition cruises, un­sched­uled, that have been vis­it­ing the coun­try, in­clud­ing Costa Rica Cruises.

Jap­son cited the keen in­ter­est of Royal Caribbean to use Pier 15 but it needs bol­lard to ac­com­mo­date its cruise ship. Pier 15 is cur­rently un­der the Philip­pine Ports Au­thor­ity and is be­ing used for car­goes.

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