Second runway boosts tourism but needs complementary infra
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel Abalos (The Freeman) - July 8, 2019 - 12:00am

Reportedly, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 149 (authored by Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar), which sought for the establishment of a second runway at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in Lapu-Lapu City.

Though still to be approved by the Senate, the officials confidently announced that the construction of the P2.5 billion second runway is set to begin in January 2020 and will be completed in two years or by the end of December 2021.

If approved by the Senate and completed as scheduled, this simply means that, by then, tourism shall grow exponentially as the MCIA will be able to accommodate more flights to and from Cebu.

Moreover, knowing fully well that GMR-Megawide invested several billions in the new terminal, it will surely market the facility to more airlines. Therefore, that should mean more destinations and more diverse nationalities coming into the country as tourists.

Again, for tourism, this is good. The question is, with this expected volume, are we ready to comfortably accommodate them and make sure they enjoy? Remember, traffic in Metro Cebu is already bad on normal or regular days. If one is from the south of Cebu, traffic jams from Carcar until the South Road Properties are so taxing. The same is true in the north of Cebu. Though we already have the North Coastal Road, traffic woes from Consolacion to Cebu City are too hard to bear.

If we care to analyze, we can surmise that our roads are so inadequate to accommodate the current number of vehicles. Moreover, our public transport system is so inappropriate. Now, with more tourists coming in, expect more tourist buses using our already congested roads. Now, will they be happy? Of course not. With the situation we have right now, they will be spending more time on the road than in places they would like to visit. In all respects, that is not tourism.

Lest we forget, there are three significant areas that we should look into for the tourism industry to flourish. These are (1) product development, (2) adequate infrastructure and (3) promotion and marketing.

Apparently, therefore, just like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, the forerunners of tourism among ASEAN countries, we must develop places of interest like theme parks and amusement parks.  Or, probably, organize trades expos also as part of product development.

Undeniably, this is where we, through the private sector, are up to the task. As we can observe, theme parks in Cebu have started to sprout. Countryside tourism is also peaking up. Likewise, farm tourism, particularly, is gaining traction.

Promotion-wise, the tour and travel operators, businessmen as they are, will certainly package tours if the products are saleable and comfortably reachable. Thus, with all certainty, the promotional aspects shall be efficiently undertaken throughout the year.

However, unlike these neighboring countries, our infrastructure is both inadequate and very poor. Again, as has been obvious and felt by everyone and more often discussed, our road traffic is already horrible. Undeniably, our traffic woes are long and flatly permanent.

The dreamed mass transport system, the supposed solution, remained as such, a dream. Though much talked about, still, that’s what has been done so far, just pure talk.

Indeed, we truly understand the necessity of promoting our tourism potentials both here and abroad. The need to inform potential market of our capabilities is unquestionable. In doing so however, we must not forget that like any business, the key to any success is continued patronage. This can only be achieved once we can develop a strong customer base that will not only give us repeat businesses but shall tell the world of our unparalleled capabilities.

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