Philippines upgrades Port of Batangas, build new US$800 million container terminal at Bauan

To decongest the Manila Port, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. inaugurated the newly expanded Batangas Port Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) in Batangas City—the largest in the Philippines, on April 26. This expansion aims to disperse economic activities and alleviate congestion at the Manila Port.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) manages the PTB, the largest, busiest, and most modern passenger terminal nationwide, with operations handled by Asian Terminal Incorporated (ATI).

Located 110 kilometers south of Metro Manila, in Barangay Sta. Clara, Batangas City, the Port of Batangas serves as a major hub in the Calabarzon region. It connects mainland Luzon to MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan) and to Iloilo, Negros, Cebu, and Mindanao via fast crafts, ferries, and roll-on ships.

Marcos described the port as a vital link to the country’s dynamic capital region, agricultural centers, island tourism destinations, and a crucial entry point for goods that drives the economy.

“Maximizing the Port of Batangas helps decongest our Manila Ports and spreads economic activities to areas capable of supporting industrial growth,” said Marcos during the inauguration. He emphasized the port’s role in connecting people from distant islands and diverse cultures, fostering unity and strengthening the national bond.

Jay Santiago, PPA’s general manager. Photo credit: PPA

PPA’s general manager, Jay Santiago, said that the expanded terminal now accommodates around 8,000 passengers, up from the previous 2,500, increasing its annual capacity to approximately 14 million passengers from four million.

“Batangas port is one of our busiest terminals, where during peak seasons, we accommodate 22,000 passengers in a single day. The limited space of the terminal has always been an issue in the past. That is why we expanded it from 2,500 passenger capacity to an 8,000-passenger capacity at the Batangas PTB. This is now our largest terminal,” Santiago said.

The Port of Batangas’ PTB also features a multi-level car storage facility that accommodates 13,000 vehicles.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. inspects Batangas Port. Photo credit: PPA

Government prepares for cruise tourism surge

The country is seeing a significant increase in sea passenger travel. In 2023, the PPA recorded a 24 percent rise in passenger traffic, reaching 73.61 million from 59.19 million in 2022, driven by a surge in holiday sea travel.

Santiago is confident about continuing this momentum in passenger growth. When asked by Maritime Fairtrade if the expanded Batangas port can accommodate foreign cruise ships, Santiago said, “Yes, our terminal in Batangas can accept cruise ships.”

While acknowledging the Philippines’ limited cruise infrastructure, Santiago said the government is enhancing terminals for cruise tourism and constructing more dedicated terminals at cruise tourist sites across the country.

“We recognize the lack of cruise tourism infrastructure. The potential of cruise tourism has not been identified for a long time. Since 2016, we have been recognizing its importance to boost the national economy. We are not only improving existing ports but also constructing dedicated cruise terminals,” Santiago told Maritime Fairtrade. 

The Philippines is projecting to welcome at least 300,000 cruise ship travelers this year—more than triple the number in 2023. Santiago said the government is preparing for their arrival by constructing dedicated terminals at key tourist sites.

“For the year, we are expecting 300,000 cruise tourist arrivals. In the first three months of 2024, we have already achieved 44,000 cruise tourist arrivals,” he said.

Santiago said that the agency is accelerating the construction of dedicated terminals to facilitate cruise travelers’ entry around the archipelago.

Port of Batangas. Photo credit: PPA

Improving cruise tourism infrastructure

Santiago emphasized the booming cruise industry and highlighted the government’s efforts to enhance dedicated cruise terminals across the Philippines.

The earliest project targeted for completion is the cruise terminal in the surfing hotspot of Siargao, which is set to open by the third quarter. Santiago explained that this terminal’s completion will boost tourism demand in the Philippines.

“Beyond improving current ports, we are constructing dedicated cruise terminals, like the one in Siargao. Hopefully, the Siargao cruise terminal will be operational by the third quarter,” Santiago said.

Following this, the agency plans to open another dedicated terminal in Coron, aimed at attracting foreign tourists to Palawan. This terminal is expected to be operational by 2025, according to Santiago.

Moreover, the PPA is committed to establishing similar facilities on various islands nationwide, particularly in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur in Luzon; Aklan in Visayas; and Camiguin in Mindanao.

“We are retrofitting ports to meet cruise ship requirements, including those in Curimao, Ilocos Norte, and Salomague in Ilocos Sur. Additionally, we have constructed a dedicated cruise terminal in Buruanga, Aklan, with more locations planned for cruise destinations, including Camiguin,” the PPA chief said.

The PPA aims to complete 29 projects within the year, including the expansion of the Port of Zamboanga, a crucial port in Mindanao.

Hailed as the “Best Cruise Destination in Asia” last year, the Philippines welcomed over 80,000 cruise ship passengers in 2023.

According to Santiago, the government is keen to boost cruise tourism, seeing it as a lucrative opportunity to showcase the country’s natural beauty and cultural heritage to international travelers. 

Ferry ticket counters at Port of Batangas. Photo credit: PPA

New US$800 million container terminal

International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), the largest multinational and transnational company in the Philippines, plans to construct a US$800 million international container terminal in Bauan, Batangas, in Southern Luzon.

This project aims to enhance shipping activities in the Calabarzon region, located over 120 kilometers south of Manila and nine kilometers west of Batangas City.

Recently, ICTSI announced that design and engineering studies for the new terminal are already underway, with construction set to begin in the first quarter of 2025. The first berth should be completed by the end of 2027.

When finished, the Batangas terminal will feature a quay length of up to 900 meters and at least eight ship-to-shore gantry cranes, offering a capacity of about two million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) annually.

The terminal will become the primary international gateway for shippers in Calabarzon, with direct access to Southern Luzon’s expressways, ensuring smooth cargo movement.

According to ICTSI, the terminal will boost logistics activities in Southern Tagalog, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth. The terminal will also address marine handling requirements essential for the country’s renewable energy strategy in Southern Luzon.

ICTSI noted that this terminal represents the largest privately funded marine terminal investment in the country’s history, set to become the second-largest container facility after the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) in the Port of Manila.

“This new terminal marks a major advancement for Southern Luzon. We are developing a world-class facility that will bring significant economic benefits to the region and the country. It will generate new job opportunities, enhance the quality of life for local communities, and strengthen Southern Luzon’s role in global trade,” said Christian Gonzalez, ICTSI executive vice president.

He added that the terminal aligns with ICTSI’s strategy to establish a national network of ports with ICTSI’s operational expertise, enhancing the country’s supply chain and global trade competitiveness.

Gonzalez emphasized that the Bauan-San Pascual-Batangas-STAR tollway diversion road and other expressway projects from Cavite to Bauan will significantly improve the terminal’s accessibility. The terminal will be accessible via the diversion road from the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR Tollway).

Top photo credit: PPA. Jay Santiago (at forefront), PPA’s general manager.

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