Slow construction of airports makes 10M tourist arrivals difficult

GMA by Danessa Rivera, 11-26-2014

The Aquino administration may find it difficult to achieve its goal of having 10 million tourist arrivals by the end of its term in 2016 due to the slow roll out of infrastructure in air transportation, officials of real estate services firm KMC MAG Group said Wednesday.
The tourism sector is a promising sector for the Philippines but it has met stagnation in terms of foreign tourist arrivals, KMC MAG Group vice president Yves Luethi said in a briefing in Makati City.
"Everything is there. The natural resources are there but unfortunately the infrastructure can't really accommodate the mass tourism which we target," he said.
Luethi cited the 3.267 million visitor arrivals as of end-August, just up 2.72 percent from of 3.18 million a year earlier.
"From January to August, it's stagnant. The target of 10 million by 2016 will be hard to achieve. What are the major issues there? Of course, it goes back to poor infrastructure," he said.
"We will need a major push, the private sector has already proposed different opportunities and options, Sangley airport among others," Luethi added.
The findings of the property services firm came two weeks after  Department of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said the country was hard pressed to meet the 6.8 million foreign tourist arrivals this year due to travel ban imposed by other countries and the aftermath of killer Typhoon Yolanda.
In the same briefing, capital markets and investments head Jose Carmelo Porciuncula stressed the need to develop provincial airports, noting that it is tedious if tourists have to go through Manila airports.
"It makes sense. If you land in Cebu, it's not traffic that you encounter.
If you land it through Manila, you go through our airports, you take the hour and a half drive to your hotel and then you stay overnight and then go back to the same airport," he said.
While the government and private sector are pushing to improve direct transport into the country's top destinations, Porciuncula said both sectors have to make more efforts.
"We hope they move a little faster so that we can take advantage of the boom," he said.
After undergoing a one-year rehabilitation,  international airlines moved to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3)-which became fully operation last July. 
Under public-private partnerships (PPP), the upgrade of Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is facing delays due to disputes from private firms that participated in the bidding and business groups.
GMR-Megawide was the winning bidder in the 25-year concession deal for the private-public partnership project to rehabilitate and expand the MCIA.
In January 2015, the Philippine government  will bid out six airports-Laguindingan, Panglao, Puerto Princesa, Davao, Bacolod, and Iloilo airports-in bundles.
"The government and private sector is working on a massive plan. It can further open doors and investment opportunities," Luethi said.