Another boost to Philippine tourism
ANOTHER sign that the Philippines is now being noticed the world over is the result of a recent survey conducted by a magazine published by the Financial Times Business Group of London that ranked Clark International Airport as the third best free zone airport in the world.
FDi Magazine, a bi-monthly news and foreign direct investment publication, in its “Global Free Zones of the Future 2012/13″ report, also ranked Clark Freeport Zone as the 8th best freeport zone in the world, with Dubai Airport Free Zone being named the best. In 2010, Clark Freeport Zone was ranked 7th.
The recognition of Clark Airport comes in the heels of the accolades received by Boracay Island in Aklan and Ariara Island in Palawan from two prestigious magazines.
The prestigious Travel+Leisure Magazine named Boracay as the world’s most popular tourist destination while the elite Vogue Magazine chose Palawan’s Ariara Island as its top choice for a rich-and-famous getaway.
The recognition of Clark Airport followed an earlier news report that the Department of Transportation and Communication is financing a P100-million study on the feasibility of turning Clark International Airport into the main international airport of the country.
The Clark Airport, also known as the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) is located at the heart of Central Luzon, making it the most viable and convenient airport of choice for travelers from North-Central Luzon and the northern Metro Manila area who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city streets. It is easily accessible by shuttle bus from various points of Metro Manila and North Luzon.
The airport is one of the biggest aviation complexes in Asia with two runways in parallel configuration that can easily be extended to 4 kilometers to accommodate new generation wide-bodied aircrafts. The primary runway (Runway 02R/20L) has a length of 3,200 meters and a width of 61 meters. It is fully equipped with all navigational aids and lighting facilities and has a Category 1 rating for precision approach. The secondary runway (Runway 02L/20R) has a length of 3,200 meters and a width of 45 meters. It is not yet equipped with navigational aids and lighting facilities and is currently used for Visual Flight Rules (VFR) only.
The airport is well equipped with a Terminal Radar Approach Control, Navigational Aids, Meteorological Equipment, Airfield Ground Lighting System and Crash, Fire and Rescue facilities.
The DMIA takes pride in its modern amenities complemented by airline support services such as Gate Gourmet, the world’s largest in-flight catering service provider; SIA Engineering Philippines, for Maintenance Repair Overhaul Facility; Lubwell Corporation, for into plane fuel service provider and Clark Airport Service Support Corporation (CASSC), for ground handling facility to name a few.
All these are being undertaken with a long-term goal of developing the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport as the next premiere international gateway of the Philippines and the best in services and logistics in the Asia-Pacific region.
The full development of the Clark airport augurs well for tourism in the Philippines. With the “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” promotional campaign, tourist arrivals are expected to increase many folds. The increase in the tourist traffic volume will soon congest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport offers a great alternative for arriving and departing tourists, especially now that experts have ranked it the third best Freeport airport in the world.
The Department of Tourism realizes the need to hasten the construction of new infrastructures, such as roads, airports, ports, railroad and bus terminals, resorts and hotels to accommodate the expected droves of tourists following the aggressive push by tourism authorities through the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign.
The department has coordinated with the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation and Communications for the immediate implementation of the government’s infrastructure program.
The government has earmarked P182.2-billion for its infrastructure program for 2012, which includes the construction or renovation of facilities near popular tourist destinations to attract more tourists, and help the country attain its goal of 10 million tourists by 2016. It is the first time that the bulk of the year’s infrastructure spending will be for tourism development.
Among the priorities are the improvement of existing airports, such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and airports in Davao, Cebu, Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Clark in Pampanga, Iloilo, Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, and Zamboanga. Each of the local airports are expected to host hundreds of thousands of tourists in the coming years. In addition, several existing seaports will also be rehabilitated, especially those leading to popular tourist destinations.
The government has also identified key roads for improvement in Cebu and Bohol, the Coron-Busuanga and Taytay-El Nido roads in Palawan, road projects in Puerto Princesa, the Sorsogon-to-Donsol road, roads in Benguet province, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, and Zamboanga, among others.
All these, plus the recent recognition of the Philippines popular tourist attractions by prestigious publications are big boosts to the government’s goal of making tourism a major driver of the Philippine economy.
(Ms. Annie Cuevas-Lim is the regional director of the Philippine Department of Tourism Los Angeles Office.)
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