Businessmen’s call came amid Cebu’s tourism growth
AS the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) opens its gates to more international destinations in the next two years, local business and tourism stakeholders called for better infrastructure in the province to complement this growth.
Melanie Ng, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president, said there is a need for more infrastructure that will address Metro Cebu’s traffic woes in order to support the airport’s expansion.
“I believe businesses will benefit if there’s an increase in visitor arrivals due to more direct flights to Cebu,” Ng said in a text message.
MCIA is poised to establish direct links with Australia and Europe in the next two years in a bid to get a bigger slice of the international market.
In an Inquirer report, the airport was said to also want an increase in connections to neighbors in the region including China, Japan, and South Korea, with incentives being offered to carriers based in those jurisdictions.
GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), MCIA’s private operator, is currently undertaking the construction of a second terminal in anticipation of the surge of passengers in the next few years.
The airport’s second terminal, set to be operational in June 2018, was seen to increase the facility’s capacity to 12.8 million per year from 8.9 million in 2016, 75 percent of whom were locals.
By end-2017, MCIA expects to serve 10 million passengers, a 12-percent jump from figures in 2016.
MCIA currently serves 16 international destinations and 27 domestic destinations with 19 airline carrier partners.
While airport management is doing what it can to accommodate passengers passing through the MCIA, tourism stakeholders pointed out the need for improvements outside the airport as well.
Edilberto Mendoza, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators (CATO), echoed the sentiments of CCCI’s Ng.
“The government should also improve the roads and infrastructure around the airport in anticipation of the bulk of passengers later on when these new flights come in,” he said.
Mendoza cited the third bridge project linking Mactan Island through Cordova to the mainland through Cebu City as among the projects seen to address these issues.
Cenelyn Manguilimotan, past president of the Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), also called for the need to improve road conditions and for ways to fix the metropolitan’s traffic problem.
“We need to fix a lot of things in order to be more attractive to tourists. We need to have easy access to tourist destinations,” she said.
Based on partial data from DOT-7, 4 million visitors came to the region from January to September last year, reflecting an 11.17-percent growth rate from 3.6 million during the same period in 2015.
Cebu contributed 2.95 million tourists for the period covered, followed by Bohol with 476,113, Negros Oriental with 514,868, and Siquijor with 66,905.
Domestic arrivals in the region were pegged at 2.3 million while foreign arrivals were at 1.68 million, agency data showed.