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Cebu records high tourist arrivals, air traffic movements

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita August 23,2018 - 10:11 PM

Not even two months since the opening of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) Terminal 2, local tourism players are are already seeing the benefits of the facility.

Hotels and resorts have posted higher occupancy rates following the influx of more tourists coming into Cebu through the new terminal.

Hotels, Resorts, Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC) President Carlo Suarez said their members have been enjoying between 80 to 90 percent occupancy rates for the past three months.
“Our average occupancy rates in the past three months is higher than the same time last year,” he said.

For the months of June, July and August 2017, Suarez estimated that hotels and resorts in Cebu only posted occupancy rates of between 60 to 70 percent.

Suarez cited the opening of more direct international flights to Cebu as one of the reasons why there are more tourists coming in and spending vacations in the province as well as in nearby areas, and they expected this tourism boom to continue in the coming years.

The P17.5 billion MCIA Terminal 2 started commercial operations last July 1.

It is exclusive to international flights and is expected to cater to eight million passengers a year.

Based on records from the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), the private operator of MCIA, both passenger traffic and air traffic movement for July have significantly increased compared to the same month last year.

For July 2018, international passenger traffic at Terminal 2 was at 364,199. This represents a 43.54 percent increase compared to the 253,719 passengers in July 2017.

On the other hand, air traffic movement for July this year also increased to 2,415 compared to 1,815 in July last year. This represents a 33.06 percent increase in the number of international departures and arrivals at MCIA T2.

Aggressive marketing

GMCAC President Louie Ferrer credited the increase in passenger traffic and air traffic movement to their aggressive marketing efforts abroad.

“Since January this year, we have added 15 new direct international flights to Cebu. Of that number, 12 are from different parts of mainland China. So we see the Chinese tourists as a big market,” he said.

Philippines AirAsia launched three new routes out ot MCIA to Chinese destinations – Hangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.

Philippine Airlines subsidiary PAL Express also resumed their Cebu-Chengdu service last May 8 and mounted chartered flights to Hangzhou and Nanjing in July.

Cebu Pacific started charter services to Shanghai and Beijing with thrice and twice a week flights, respectively.

Foreign airlines like Okay Airways also kicked off its thrice a week Cebu-Changsa-Cebu route last June. Royal Air Charter Service Inc. also commenced its non-scheduled, daily charter services from Cebu to Macau last June.

Ferrer said that they will continue to market Cebu to different cities and provinces in China as well as other countries.

Among the countries they have been visiting are Japan and Australia.

“We don’t sell the airport because it is just a gateway. We are selling Cebu. We are selling Lapu-Lapu City and the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao areas,” Ferrer said.

Spanning 65,500 square meters, the newly opened Terminal 2 is expected to increase the total capacity of the MCIA to 12.5 million passengers a year.

GMCAC also earlier reported that the MCIA has served a total of 5.76 million passengers, both domestic and international, for the first half of the year.

From January to June, MCIA recorded 3.87 million domestic passengers while international traffic totaled 1.89 million passengers.

Domestic and international passenger traffic increased by 10.19 percent and 17.54 percent, respectively, compared to the first half of 2017.

GMCAC has set a target of 11.2 million passenger traffic this year.

With their current numbers, Ferrer said they are optimistic in hitting this target.

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