New airport poised to lift Bohol’s growth prospects
Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman) - January 18, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Tourist haven Bohol province is poised to become a top destination in Asia, with its new airport seen driving this growth prospect.


The new Bohol-Panglao International Airport, which was inaugurated last November, is being projected to help boost Bohol’s tourism industry.

Bohol Tourism Office head Josephine Cabarrus said that a fresh approach to airport management and operation is a welcome strategy to make the airport at par with other international airports.

“Learning from how the Tagbilaran airport was managed, we know there are things to be improved. If you say that you have an international facility, then you should have an international-level service,” she noted in a statement released by Aboitiz Equity Ventures yesterday, whose infrastructure unit Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. is proposing to manage and develop the new airport.

Cabarrus said airport services should be elevated to international standards as tourist arrivals into Bohol are expected to double this year.

According to airport consultant ICF, the tourism sector in Bohol has grown at an impressive annual rate of 25.2% from 2011 to 2017, and by 30% from 2016 to 2017 to reach an estimate of 1.3 million tourists.

Panglao Island, being the most popular tourist destination in Bohol, had 704,000 tourists in 2017.

Cabarrus believes the new airport is poised to bring in more foreign visitors.

"We’re looking at Bohol-Panglao airport to be a game changer for the economy of not only Panglao, but of the whole province," she said.

She pointed out the robust tourist business will eventually make ripple effects to the province's economy in terms of job generation in the construction, retail, food and transportation sectors.

"We have been trying to develop tourism areas and get the people out of Panglao and to other travel destinations in Bohol,” she noted.

The new Bohol-Panglao Airport replaced the old Tagbilaran Airport which, Cabarrus said, was a factor of non-competitive airfares to and from Bohol, hampering its full potential as a tourist destination.

“For the longest time, we have been at the mercy of very expensive airfares. For instance, a one-way trip between Manila and Bohol at peak season can be around P8,000 to P10,000. [It’s] almost the same fare [rate] to Hong Kong. We’re hoping that with the operation of the new airport, the fares could be lower due to supply and demand,” she said.

The new airport, which is ten times bigger than the old Tagbilaran airport, boasts of a 2,500-meter runway that can accommodate seven aircraft at one given time and a passenger terminal that can handle around two million people annually. With sustained growth expected, the new airport could require expansion as early as 2025. 


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