Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd., the world’s second-largest cruise line operator, plans to build a homeport in the Philippines through a purpose-built terminal either in Caticlan or Boracay, the Tourism Department said Thursday.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said in a statement an agreement was signed Tuesday among the Trade Department, the province of Aklan and Royal Carribean Cruise represented by vice president for new commercial development John Tercek.
“We are excited over the prospects of the Royal Carribean Lines getting more involved in the development and promotion of Caticlan/ Boracay for cruise tourism. We are confident that the strategic partnership will result in more ships calling on Boracay, and pave the way for eventual home port operations,” said Bengzon.
The agreement is seen to further open the Western Visayas region to the global cruising market.
Miami-based Royal Carribean will provide the necessary technical and financial support needed to building the terminal.
The parties are also discussing if the proposed homeport would be open to other commercial vessels.
Tercek said the Philippines had a great potential to become a cruise hub in the region. “The Philippines is the future Caribbean of Asia,” he said.
The provincial government of Aklan said residents approved the plan because they would benefit from the new economic opportunities it would generate such as employment and business ventures.
Boracay is the Philippines’ third largest cruise destination with 29 calls over the last four years.
It is topped by Puerto Princesa with 39 transits and 16 overnights and Manila, with 48 transits and 5 overnights.
International cruise calls to the Philippines grew 27.8 percent over the past four years, from 56 calls in 2014 to 70 calls the following year and 72 calls in 2016.
The Philippines expects over a hundred port calls with 122,000 cruise passengers in 2017.