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Freeman Cebu Business

Key infrastructure projects seen to boost Cebu tourism

Carlo S. Lorenciana - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu's tourism industry could grow further once the key infrastructure projects such as the airport modernization and mass transport system are realized.

Aside from the expansion of Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Cebu should be able to entice more tourists over the medium-term given the completion of other key infrastructure projects that will considerably ease travel within the city, according to property consultancy firm Colliers International in an insight report provided by its research manager Joey Bondoc.

These projects include the Cebu-Cordova bridge and the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that is among the priorities of the Duterte administration.

"These major road transport projects should complement the rehabilitation and upgrading of national and local roads being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)," it said.

The Mactan airport's expansion project should further boost Cebu’s attractiveness as a tourist destination, Colliers said.

From January to November of 2016, Cebu attracted some 3.46 million domestic and foreign tourists, up 12 percent year-on-year, making it the most visited destination in the Philippines.

Colliers believes the impact of travel advisories issued by a number of countries will likely have a short-term effect in the influx of tourists.

It emphasized that the long-term growth of tourism in the area will be "hinged on the swift resolution of safety issues by the government.

Colliers said the continued surge of tourists in the city should "provide impetus for developers to ramp up construction of hotels and resort-oriented condominium projects."

"In 2016, it attracted the largest number of domestic and foreign tourists, outranking other key destinations like Camarines Sur, Davao, Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Palawan," Colliers noted.

According to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center, the MCIA Terminal 2 project is 51 percent completed as of end-March 2017.

GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), the firm behind the PPP project, said MCIA’s second terminal is on track for completion by June 2018.

The upgraded terminal should entice more foreign airlines to mount direct flights to Cebu which has consistently ranked as among the most visited destinations in the country.

The P17.5-billion airport project involves the construction of a new world-class passenger terminal building, sent to have a capacity of 12.5 million tourists per year, almost triple the old facility’s 4.5-million capacity.

Cebu serves as the jump-off point to other Visayas and Mindanao destinations, thus the need to expand its airport’s capacity

Colliers also cited other key developments that should boost Cebu’s tourism sector, including the lowering of airfares as airlines compete for bigger market share; approval of the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement in Air Services that allows Philippine air carriers to fly an unlimited number of times to the capital cities of other Southeast Asian nations; and Cebu’s emergence as a key meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) destination.

Over the past three years, Cebu successfully hosted a number of major international events such as APEC ministerial meetings, International Eucharistic Congress, and preliminary events of the recently-concluded Miss Universe pageant. Cebu is also among the cities that hosted a number of ASEAN 2017 meetings.

"With growing interest in Cebu as a MICE destination in the region, we encourage developers to apportion a bigger space for conference rooms and other similar facilities,” Gerard Padriga, general manager of Colliers' Cebu office, was quoted as saying I its report.

Last year, Cebu-based Gaisano Capital Group launched the 1,500-seat Mactan Island Convention Center (MICC).

Cebu tourism will also benefit from the Philippine and Chinese governments’ signing of an agreement on tourism cooperation that includes exploring a possible increase in capacity entitlements in air services and encouraging airlines to open new flights between cities in the Visayas and Mindanao regions and Chinese cities. (FREEMAN)   

CEBU TOURISM

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