ACCESSIBILITY to the Philippines, a longstanding challenge for tourism, is improving markedly owing to the unprecedented increase in foreign ailrines flying into the country and new routes blazed this year.
Erwin Balane, head of the department of tourism’s route development team, told TTG Asia e-Daily: “The number of seats that we have already added is by the hundreds of thousands a year, which also means additional visitor traffic to the Philippines."
According to Balane, foreign airlines coming in this year include Ethiopian Airlines’ thrice-weekly Addis Ababa-Manila service starting June 27; HK Express’ Hong Kong-Kalibo (Boracay) and Hong Kong-Cebu services, both twice-weekly with dates to be announced; and Garuda Indonesia’s Jakarta-Manila service four times a week, starting August 2.
Local carriers will also launch new routes: Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) thrice-weekly Manila-Jinjiang, China service from April 25; PAL’s twice-weekly Manila-Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea from June; and Cebu Pacific Air’s (CEB) twice-weekly Manila-Doha service beginning June 4.
This year, PAL also began flying to New York while CEB launched services to Hong Kong from Kalibo and to Tokyo (Narita) from Cebu.
Stressing the importance of air access in bringing the tourists, Balane said the Philippines is eyeing more links to Asia, including China, South Korea and Singapore.
His team is also working towards direct flights from Asia to secondary destinations such as Davao, Cebu and Boracay, since Manila’s airport is already congested for faster and more competitive travel.