The new management of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) seeks to embrace the continuously growing and dynamic Philippine tourism industry by providing much needed infrastructures and facilities. On its 9th year Anniversary celebration, TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo D. Paragas highlights the Authority’s legacy project: The Manila Cruise Port.

The development of a cruise port facility in Manila is one of the projects in the National Cruise Tourism Development Strategy. Manila has been identified as a strategic location for cruise tourism in the National Tourism Development Plan. This is in line with Republic Act No. 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009) which declares tourism as an indispensable element of the national economy and an industry of national interest and importance for its immense socio-economic contributions and cultural affirmation.

Pursuant to the Department of Tourism (DOT) Department Order No. 2017-48, TIEZA has been designated as the lead agency responsible in the construction and development of the cruise-dedicated port in Manila, and in other priority ports in the country. TIEZA is working together with the Cruise Tourism Development Committee (CTDC), composed of representatives from different government agencies, in ensuring that the Philippines is cruise-ready, cruise-friendly, attractive to market, and maximizes the benefits of cruise tourism for the inclusive growth of the destinations and the country.

Pursuant to this, on May 9, 2018, TIEZA forwarded to the Office of the President the proposal of Sureste Properties Inc. for the Development of the Solaire Cruise Center in Paranaque City. The proponent, Mr. Enrique K. Razon of Bloomberry Resorts Corporation (the developer of Solaire) and International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), along with their consultant Mr. Guillaume Lucci presented the Solaire Cruise Centre (SCC) to President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The proposal includes marine and terminal facilities, homeport and port-of-call operations, an expanded harbor offering dining, shopping, entertainment and maritime recreation, and walkable esplanades and plazas. The impact of the proposal is envisioned on four fronts. First, it aims to be a catalyst for economic development. Second, it plans to bring home Filipinos who are working in cruise tourism and accelerate development of seafarer training in the Philippines. Third, it hopes to reduce pressure on airports. Lastly, it aspires to develop a Philippines-centric cruise industry with a domestic itinerary.

The timeline for the completion of the SCC is in the next two (2) to ten (10) years. By 2020, the first phase, at $82 Million project cost, will prioritize the main navigation components for the Solaire Cruise Center and the construction of the berth for the homeport (which will initially be a port-of-call facility). All in all, the total project cost is $308 Million.

President Duterte expressed no objection to the proposal subject to the compliance of all government required permits and environmental clearances. He made reference in particular to the impact to the environment and his policy of zero tolerance on corruption.

The other government agencies represented also supported the private initiative, with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade emphasizing the urgent need for a dedicated port for cruise and complementary facilities, as the current constraints of the Manila Harbor do not produce a conducive environment for cruise passengers and poses delays in the cargo handling of the port area. National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia welcomed the proposal of the Sureste group and mentioned the possibility of putting up peripheral ports by other investors in the other regions to support the Manila Cruise Port. Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Santiago gave the proponent the go signal to develop a private commercial cruise terminal port facility located at Brgy. Tambo, Paranaque City subject to the submission of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

The project shall be applied for designation as a Tourism Enterprise Zone (TEZ) of TIEZA, under which the proponent can avail of fiscal and nonfiscal incentives and pursue other workable expectations.

Corollarily, TIEZA is inviting bidders for the Consultancy Services on the Feasibility Study for the Construction of a Cruise Port Facility and Terminal in the cities covering portions of Paranaque, and Pasay cities. The subject area covers the bay area of the CCP complex, particularly the CCP-owned area subject of the TIEZA-CCP Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and is extended to cover the bay area of Entertainment City in Paranaque, which is referred to as the Expanded Identified Area in the Terms of Reference (TOR). This Feasibility Study is a precedent step to the master planning of the Cruise Port Project on the identified feasible location and the detailed engineering design requirements.

TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo D. Paragas, TIEZA ACOO Joy M. Bulauitan, and NEDA Undersecretary Rolando Tungpalan were present in the briefing.