Star Cruises seeking cabotage law waiver to expand cruising routes here
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.