T2: DOT’s ‘poster boy’ for airport infra thrust
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 is the poster boy of one of the agenda of the new administration of the Department of Tourism, which is airport infrastructure — the centerpieces of the agency’s master plan.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said this during Thursday’s Tourism Innovation Forum at the Cebu Marco Polo Plaza in Cebu City.
Bengzon, who discussed the seven key point agenda of the tourism department under newly appointed Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, cited Cebu as becoming a showcase of this thrust — air infrastructure and air connectivity.
“Airport infrastructure are centerpieces of our master plan. And I can’t think of a better poster boy than the new MactanCebu International Airport (MCIA) terminal, which is a shining example of a successful PPP (public-private partnership) and that cemented Cebu’s stature in the aviation and tourism community,” he said.
The P17.5 billion MCIA Terminal 2 is scheduled to start commercial operations by July 1. It was inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte and other officials last June 7.
It is expected to increase the passenger capacity of the airport to 12.5 million passengers annually.
Cebu will also be at the center of attraction next year as it is set to host the Routes Asia 2019. About 1,000 delegates composed of airline executives and route planners in the Asia and the Pacific are expected to attend the event.
According to Bengzon, air connectivity is crucial in the Philippines being an archipelago. He said 98 percent of tourists enter the country by air while the remaining 2 percent do so through cruise ships.
Another major objective of the DOT is for education tourism.
“Soon, we will roll our similar roadmap for education tourism especially for English as a Second Language (ESL) for which Cebu is now a top notch destination among different markets,” he said in his speech.
Bengzon reiterated Puyat’s seven-point agenda which she presented during her appointment hearing with the Commission on Appointments (CA).
Her thrusts include pursing the Tourism Act of 2009; review the implementation of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP); prioritize improving policies on access, connectivity, and security as well as enhancement of tourism infrastructure; and consultation with industry and sector groups.
Other thrusts are global advertising and promotion efforts; working with the Boracay stakeholders to transform the popular island into a champion for sustainable tourism; and rolling out of the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016 to increase revenue streams in the countryside.
Bengzon said farm tourism will really be focused on by the DOT considering the extensive experience of Secretary Puyat as undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture for several years prior to her appointment with DOT.
“On advertising, we will be restarting our global advertising and promotions campaign. We will keep the ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ campaign which has gained traction across different markets,” he said.
Markets like China, Korea and Japan is expected to still be the Philippine’s bread and butter in terms of tourists as they currently account to almost half of all visitor arrivals in the country.
At the same time, Bengzon said the DOT will also look at core markets like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia; while also focusing on other countries within Southeast Asia.
From the current 10 percent, the DOT hopes to increase the number of visiting tourists from Asean countries to as much as 15 to 20 percent.
Opportunity markets like Spain, France, Israel, and Turkey are also to be tapped.
“What we hope to achieve is an optimum mix of source markets and to engage in targeted markets to ensure and maintain tourist head count and revenue targets,” he said.
Despite challenges in the tourism industry, Bengzon said the Philippines remains strong in terms of inbound tourist arrivals with a growth of between 9-11 percent. This is higher than global rates of 3 percent, and Asian growth rates of be- tween 6-8 percent.
More tourist arrivals
The DOT was also happy to report that for the past seven years, the country has continuously registered an upward trajectory in the tourist arrivals month-on-month.
“This can be attributed to many factors like our resiliency, shifts in marketing efforts,different destinations and products,and maintaining a good source market portfolio. So even if you have a sharp decline in one major market, the production you get in other opportunity markets is more than enough to compensate,” he added.
Bengzon currently sits as alternate chair in the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), serves as the head of the Philippine National Tourism Organization (NTO) for Asean, and represents the Secretary in meetings with matters under the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Philippine Air Negotiation and Consultation Panel, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and the Economic Development Council (EDC).
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. shares the new thrusts of the new administration of the tourism department during Thursday’s Tourism Innovation Forum at the Cebu Marco Polo Plaza.