T2: DOT’s ‘poster boy’ for air­port in­fra thrust

Cebu Daily News - - ENTERPRISE - By Jose Santino S. Bu­na­chita REPORTER

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.

Ed­u­ca­tion tourism

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.

Farm tourism

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.

Core mar­kets

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).

CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA

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.

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