On one chilly late afternoon in February, Philippine Tatler goes on board the Lagoon Catamaran on the coast of Manila Bay in anticipation of an evening filled with engaging conversation about the local leisure boating industry. All set against the backdrop of the light show of the International Pyromusical Competition kickoff.
Hosting the guests is Angelo Olondriz, President of local boat manufacturing company Headsail, Inc., who’s also organising the ninth SEA-EX Philippine Boat Show & Nautical Lifestyle Expo from March 3 to 5. Olondriz starts off by painting his vision for the local boating and maritime industry, pegging it as a potential coastal hub of Asia. “At SEA-EX, the industry players have been working together towards one goal, which is to make the Philippines the Mediterranean of Asia,” says Olondriz. “We want people from Asia and even Europe to play on our shores.”
Over the years, the industry has sought the support of the government, and in 2017, both sides have reached an agreement to cultivate the local maritime tourism industry. The Maritime Industry Authority, National Coast Watch Council, and the Tourism Promotions Board represent the government in the campaign.
Also present to explain the role of the government in developing this fledgling sector is Christopher Madrigal, Director of Maritime Development and Ocean Affairs under National Coast Watch Council. The council brings together nine agencies to talk about issues on maritime safety, security, and environmental protection. “Admittedly, the government is not paying enough attention to the economic side of maritime issues, only the security aspect of it,” says Madrigal. ”We at the National Coast Watch Council understand that maritime tourism is an area of national economy that has a lot of unrealised potential. Now it’s time to have a constant and consistent dialogue between the government and stakeholders.”
The support provided to local boat builders will result to the growth of small maritime businesses, which will eventually generate jobs and income for coastal communities.
“Right now, we are working with the government to update the rules and regulations that govern the marine industry,” explains Olondriz.”The last time this was revised was back in 1987. We are also working to get the leisure boating industry legitimised. These developments will pave the way for significant growth in the years to come.”
After securing the government’s backing, the next hurdle that the industry needs to overcome is gathering enough support from the private sector. Olondriz hopes that more companies, especially those in the real, estate, hospitality, and construction fields, will start shifting their focus on one of our country’s most important resources.
The discussion concluded on a hopeful note, as the guests make their way to the viewing deck of the Lagoon Catamaran and await for the first flash of dazzling lights to appear in the now-jet black sky.
The 9th SEA-EX Philippine Boat Show & Nautical Lifestyle Expo will be held on March 3 to 5 2017 at the SMX Convention Centre in the Mall of Asia Grounds. Guests can expect Manila’s biggest gathering of people and brands involved in the manufacture and distribution of yachts, sail boats, boating accessories, water sports equipment, summer apparel, and resort getaways in one roof. Visit the SEA-EX website for more information.