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SBMA eyes Zambales coves for cruise-ship holidays
Jul 06, 2018

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The growing number of international cruise ships arriving in this premier Freeport is now spurring the growth of the local economy and opening up opportunities for other communities.

On Tuesday, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma met with Mayor Estela Antipolo and other officials of San Antonio, Zambales to discuss plans to utilize certain coastal areas of the municipality as high-end cruise-ship holiday destinations.

“Our plan is to make the area the next Amalfi or the next Turks and Caicos,” Eisma said, referring to the popular coastal destinations in Italy and the Bahamas.

“The project would make the area accessible to cruise ships, attract passengers who would spend a day or two in local resorts, and hence would provide viable economic opportunities to local communities and residents,” Eisma told the municipal officials.

Eisma said the SBMA is now talking with several private investors who are considering the development of the area, particularly the Nagsasa and Silanguin coves, which are located southwest of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

According to the development plan formulated by the SBMA, what are now essentially the fishing villages of Nagsasa and Silanguin will both become port destinations with world-class resort attractions that can cater to passengers of cruise liners.

Meanwhile, a coastal road will be built to connect the coves of San Antonio without having to cut through the hills in the area.

“The winding coastal road will have a great view of the coves, just like that at the Amalfi Coast along Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula,” Eisma said.

The Amalfi Coast is a popular holiday destination with sheer cliffs and a rugged shoreline dotted with small beaches and pastel-colored fishing villages, grand villas, terraced vineyards and cliff-side lemon groves.

Eisma said the rugged coastline of San Antonio could be developed into a similar attraction that would complement its clear, aquamarine water.

At least 20 cruise ship arrivals have been scheduled in the Subic Bay Freeport this year, with bigger vessels like the MS Ovation of the Seas, the biggest cruise ship in operation in the whole of Asia, promising more port calls. More are coming in 2019, Eisma said.

She added that cruise ship passengers have already visited local attractions to as far as the heritage site of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. “So we are really in need of more attractions to sustain the demand,” Eisma explained.

Town officials of San Antonio have reportedly welcomed the proposal for the development of the local coves into high-end tourist destinations. Prior to this, the local government of San Antonio passed a resolution setting aside some 9,000 hectares of land in the municipality for development under the SBMA’s expansion program.

Other communities nearby have also allotted areas for the expansion of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

These include the towns of Subic, Castillejos, San Marcelino and Olongapo City in Zambales, and Hermosa in Bataan.

Tourists marvel at the beauty of mountain and sea at a cove in San Antonio, Zambales

Tourists marvel at the beauty of mountain and sea at a cove in San Antonio, Zambales

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