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SEA-EX Boat Show, Manila, Philippines

by Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News on 28 Feb
With over 7,000 islands and rich marine biodiversity, the Philippines has long been eyed as a possible hub for the leisure boating industry in Asia. However, almost a decade since the start of the campaign to boost the country's boating industry, the project has yet to see significant developments.

For its ninth year, the SEA-EX Philippine Boat Show and Nautical Lifestyle Expo will be receiving substantial support from the Philippine government through the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC) in rolling out the campaign and urging more private firms to invest on the potential of the Philippines in leisure boating.

According to Angelo Olondriz, President of Headsail Inc, who headed the campaign back in 2009, the improved partnership of the government and several players in the boating industry is a vital step in turning the Philippines into Asia's Mediterranean.

The country boasts a 36,289-kilometer coastline, the third longest in the world, and can rival what neighbors Hong Kong and Singapore have been offering, according to Olondriz who said, 'The Philippines has the capacity to become Asia’s leisure boating capital given its natural infrastructure that go along with the spectacular marine resources that might improve maritime tourism in the country. We want to become the playground of all Asian countries. Not only Asian, we want Europeans to come here and play with our shores. We have the islands. We are the friendliest people in Asia. We have everything that going for us.”

The local leisure boat industry, according to Olondriz, can help fulfill the potential of maritime tourism of the Philippines and generate more jobs for people living in the coastal areas and contribute to the country’s booming economy.

Meanwhile, Christopher Madrigal of NCWC shared that Philippines are focusing more on the security side. The council is tasked to consolidate different agencies in the government about the coastal areas of the Philippines. The NCWC is working under the Office of the President.

With the active participation of the government in the campaign, Olondriz hopes that more companies, especially those in the real estate and construction fields, will support the drive to expand the still small leisure boating industry in the archipelago.

“Right now, we are working with them to update the rules and regulations that govern the marine industry. We are also working to get the leisure boating industry legitimized. These developments will pave the way for significant growth in the years to come,” Olondriz said in a press release. Both Olondriz and Madrigal downplayed the stigma that boating is only for the rich, insisting that for a country with thousands of islands, boating should be a good option for transportation.

“It is unfair to label it 'just for the for rich'. When you go to an island, you have to use a boat. Foreigners who come to Philippines with their yachts sail to Subic,” Olondriz said.

Aiming to solidify the industry in the Philippines, the ninth SEA-EX Philippine Boat Show & Nautical Lifestyle Expo is set to happen on March 3-5 at the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia. The expo will feature key people and brands related to manufacturing and distribution of yachts, sailing boats, water sports equipment, resort getaways and other boating accessories.

“The show is really to help build the industry, uplift the industry. Once this happens, more players will come in to professionalize the industry. The show is slowly getting bigger,” said Olondriz.

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