MANILA -- Cruise tourist arrivals have surged more than a hundredfold as various infrastructure projects are being pursued by the government for the development of cruise terminals in the country.

As of January this year, cruise tourism arrivals registered an increase of 1,952.82 percent to 9,156 passengers from only 446 in January of last year, according to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

Of the total, more than half of the volume or 4,520 was recorded in Northern Luzon in view of the regained interest of Star Cruises at the Port of Currimao as one of its cruise routes.

Other areas that record positive growth in tourist arrivals include Coron, Boaracay and South Harbor.

The hike in cruise ship arrivals was attributed to tourism promotion initiatives being implemented by various government agencies such as the PPA, Department of Transportation, Department of Tourism, among others.

“On the part of the PPA, we have been injecting so much effort to improve the cruise facilities of our ports particularly in areas like Puerto Princesa in Palawan, South Harbor and North Harbor in Manila, Bohol in the Visayas, and Currimao in Northern Luzon. The more than 1,000 percent increase in the number of cruise tourism passengers suggests that we are slowly reaping the benefits of those initiatives,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said in a statement Monday.

“The direction of the current administration is to further harvest the fruits of global tourism efforts and PPA is continuing its efforts to make port facilities for cruise ships world class,” he added.

The PPA is currently carrying out several infrastructure projects in key areas to support the booming cruise industry aimed at developing international hubs for cruise liners like Davao, Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Metro Manila, Puerto Princesa, Subic, and Zamboanga which are the nation’s major nautical cruise arteries.

It has also lined up various port programs for the development of cruise terminals namely the Ports of Puerto Princesa, Currimao in Ilocos Norte, and Catagbacan in Bohol province.

“PPA is really bent on equipping major cruise destinations with the minimum requirements to handle cruise ships and slowly put improvements thereon,” Santiago said. (PNA)