OFWs, tourism to benefit from daily flights to Dubai
Ehda Dagooc (The Freeman) - January 6, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines – Cebu is ready to accommodate Middle Eastern tourists as tourism stakeholders had been fine tuning its services and amenities to suit some specialized preferences of this emerging market.

Tourism Congress vice president for Travel and Tour Group for Visayas Alice Queblatin yesterday said that the launching of Emirates Airlines of the Cebu-Clark-Dubai circular service daily flights starting March 30 this year is timely.

"Some of our establishments here are Middle Eastern tourists' friendly. Restaurants and hotels' food outlets too are serving Halal food preparations already," said Queblatin.

Queblatin, who owns Southwinds Travel and Tours said that Middle East market has been consistently growing, and with the entry of Emirates Air direct flight to Dubai puts Cebu in a good position to lure more wealthy Middle Eastern travelers.

In the last few months, Queblatin said tourism stakeholders, led by the Tourism Congress in coordination with the Department of Tourism, conducted a series of workshops and seminars to familiarize and understand the Muslim culture to prepare for the influx of this Mideast tourists visiting the Philippines, specifically Cebu.

"Data showed the increasing trend of Middle Eastern travelers to the Philippines. We are already working ahead with our preparations," said Queblatin, who is also the public information officer of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators (CATO).

Yesterday, the GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) formally announced the opening of the daily Cebu-Clark-Dubai of the Emirates Airlines of the UAE daily utilizing a wide-bodied Boeing 777-300ER.

The two-class configured Boeing 777-300ER offers 42 seats in Business Class and 386 seats in Economy.

Louie Ferrer, GMCAC President confirmed that these route announcements form the basis of GMCAC’s strategic vision of connecting Cebu to key global destinations and these routes are the first of many new routes to be launched.

“Filipinos living in Visayas and Mindanao who go to the Middle East and Europe will benefit from this new route. Now they can fly directly from Cebu and save their hard-earned money they would usually spend on board and lodging and transportation if departing from Manila,” Ferrer said.

He noted that a large number of OFWs, about 35-40 percent reside in the central and southern Philippines but most still have to make their way to Manila to catch flights going to their countries of work, which often translate to additional expenses for them and earlier times of departure from their places of residence.

“If we can give our kababayans the opportunity to spend even one extra day with their loved ones by allowing them to fly out directly from Cebu, then we’ve done our job," he said. The Emirates route will enhance the choice for travelers in the Philippines, who will be able to conveniently connect to 39 cities in Europe, 16 in the Middle East as well as a number of destinations across Emirates’ extensive network.

Emirates daily flights from Cebu will depart as EK338 at 17:25hrs, arriving at Clark International Airport at 18:45hrs. From Clark, it will make its way to Dubai at 20:20hrs, arriving at Dubai International Airport at 01:25hrs the next day. The return flight will depart Dubai and arrive at MCIA at 18:45hrs.

Andrew Harrison, GMCAC Chief Executive Advisor noted that the improvements of facilities at MCIA play a big part in attracting airlines with multiple products such as economy and business class, thereby offering travelers more choice in their travel product.

Prior to take over of MCIA, GMCAC identified three key markets to connect to Cebu to facilitate an increase in inward tourism, outbound travel for Filipinos, including OFWs, and cargo capacity to support exports of Filipino products.

These three markets were identified by GMCAC as the Middle East, USA, and Europe. Following the announcement of a direct Cebu-Los Angeles service with Philippine Airlines (PAL) commencing in March 2016, the Dubai route becomes the second strategic vision to be realized by GMCAC for the benefit of Cebuanos. (FREEMAN)

ANDREW HARRISON BUSINESS CLASS CEBU CEBU ASSOCIATION OF TOUR OPERATORS CEBU-CLARK-DUBAI OF THE EMIRATES AIRLINES DUBAI MIDDLE MIDDLE EAST MIDDLE EASTERN QUEBLATIN TOURISM CONGRESS
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