Operators form group to promote boat modernization program

A NEWLY formed organization is pushing for the modernization of motorboats among its members to promote safer sea transport services in domestic shipping.

“Tourism is picking up. Now is the right time for us to modernize our boats,” said Cebu Tourist Boat Association (CTBA) chairman Optaciano Sy Boo Jr., on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.

CTBA with 180 members so far was formally launched on Saturday at the Golden Prince Hotel and Suites. The group is eyeing to become a cooperative in due course to support its members in modernizing their tourist motorboats.

Boo, during the open forum, emphasized the importance of safety in tourism as an important element to sustain tourist arrivals in Cebu and in the region, whose tourism industry has been challenged by the pandemic and a strong typhoon in the past two years.

The lockdowns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic crippled the tourism sector in 2020. In December 2021, a strong typhoon exacerbated the pandemic’s impact, destroying the livelihood of motorboat operators.

CTBA, he said, is supportive of the country’s Maritime Industry Authority’s (Marina) call for ship modernization to pave the way for better and safer sea transport services. Boo said the modernization program will not only promote safety among the riding public but would also boost travelers’ confidence while they are on island hopping activities, thus bringing back and eventually sustaining the livelihood in this sector.

There are about 3,700 registered boats in Central Visayas, most of which or 60 percent are operating in Cebu.

Marina, under the Marina Circular 2016-02, aims to implement a gradual phase-out on wooden-hulled boats to replace them with boats whose hulls are made of durable materials such as fiberglass, steel, and aluminum among many other technologically improved hull materials.

CTBA said the formation of the group is meant to help Marina implement its modernization goals at the same time help the tourism industry get back on its feet by polishing up its services.

Moreover, Boo said CTBA’s formation would also allow them to easily seek technical and financial assistance from government agencies, lenders, insurance companies and other enabling sectors since it is already an organized group.

CTBA pledged to conduct more information sessions and consultations with motorboat operators to openly discuss Marina’s modernization program and eventually tap into various organizations that could help the operators in their respective modernization journeys.

The modernization of the domestic shipping industry, which is part of the Marina’s 10-year Maritime Industry Development Plan, is intended to enhance overall sea transportation experience for people, goods and services to make the Philippine maritime industry – nationally integrated and globally competitive.