Australia eyes stronger tourism ties with PH, plans direct flights to Cebu
CEBU CITY, Philippines – If it meant giving a head start in the recovery of the two countries’ tourism industry, the Australian government expressed willingness to introduce another direct route to the Philippines.
And this time, it would be in Cebu.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson, in a media briefing on Friday, January 29, said they are looking at opening direct flights between major cities in Australia and Cebu.
“Australians currently travel to Southeast Asia and generally go to Bali in Indonesia… But in actual fact, the Philippines offers as much, if not more, than traditional places that Australians have traveled to in Southeast Asia. And so, my vision is to get Australian airlines to fly in Cebu and then (have) Cebu as the gateway to travel to tourist destinations in the country,” said Robinson.
The diplomat was in Cebu last Friday to oversee preparations for the 75th celebration of the Australian-Filipino Friendship Day scheduled this May 22.
Robinson told reporters that like the Philippines, their nation relies on the tourism industry, one of the sectors badly hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The tourism industry in the Philippines and the tourism industry in Australia have been hit terribly by the pandemic. And it is one of the industries that have taken the brunt of the pandemic,” added Robinson.
Nevertheless, he said that they are looking forward to a ‘brighter’ outlook on both the Philippines and Australian tourism sectors in the longer term.
“Once we get through the pandemic, opportunities are enormous,” Robinson said.
Presently, all flights offering direct travel between the Philippines and major cities in Australia are catered at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City, Metro Manila.
Cebu, on the other hand, hosts the country’s second busiest airport which is the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
For Robinson, MCIA could readily cater to airline companies that would want to open direct flights between Mactan, Cebu and Australia.
“It makes a lot of sense for us because Cebu has a fantastic international airport – the design and equipment, it’s just marvelous,” said Robinson.
“I think if we can get Australians to fly to Cebu and then stay in Cebu, in the resorts, and also travel around the Philippines,” he added. / dcb
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