MANILA – Over the years, tourism has been proven to be a lucrative industry that contributes a big chunk to the Philippine economy.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed 2.65 million international visitor arrivals in 2022, surpassing its 1.7 million target.
This is a good indication that the tourism industry is slowly recovering from the adverse effects of the pandemic.
Last year, revenue from tourism was recorded at PHP208.96 billion while an estimated 5.23 million tourism-related jobs were generated.
This year, the DOT is targeting 4.8 million tourists to visit the country’s numerous tourist attractions.
However, a glitch cropped up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Jan. 1, which resulted in the cancelation, delay, and diversion of many flights, both international and domestic, affecting about 65,000 passengers.
For a country that has so much to offer to both domestic and foreign visitors, there is a need to upgrade the airports, expand the runway capacity, and develop new ones to cope with increasing demands.
This will also entice more foreign investors to the country.
NAIA has two runways being shared by four terminals.
Increasing runway capacity by expanding its runways may not be feasible taking into consideration environmental and spatial concerns.
NAIA borders the cities of Pasay and Parañaque. Nearby are residential areas and other establishments that may be dislocated should structural expansion be undertaken.
According to the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, air traffic congestion is likely to persist, if not worsen, without the needed investments in developing, upgrading, and improving airports.
“Airport capacities in 2023 will be inadequate to cater to domestic and international aviation demand, which is expected to recover by 2025,” it said.
Hopefully, by 2027 a new international airport in Bulacan will begin operations. Thanks to the visionary leadership of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president and CEO Ramon S. Ang.
The New Manila International Airport is a public-private partnership project between the government implementing agency, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and SMC.
The construction of the airport was an initiative of SMC and underwent the necessary procedures for an unsolicited proposal.
SMC subsidiary San Miguel Aerocity, Inc. was granted the franchise to construct and operate the new international airport.
The project covers the construction, operation, and maintenance of the new modern airport with a capacity of 200 million passengers per year.
Unlike the existing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which has only two runways, the new airport will have four runways.
Thus, it will greatly ease the congestion at the NAIA.
Aside from aviation-related facilities, the 2,500-hectare aerocity, which was designed by Architect Felino Palafox, will have accessible public transport systems, landscaped walkways, and promenades with ample open spaces. It will use the latest digital infrastructure.
The PHP735.6 billion project, to be fully funded by SMC, is expected to generate at least 30 million jobs in tourism-related businesses.
The construction phase alone will already create jobs for many, including blue-collar workers.
Land development for the new airport is ongoing before civil works are undertaken.
Data from the website https://data.aseanstats.org/visitors show that for 2019 and 2020, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam were the top countries of destinations for travelers from around the world.
While marketing the country’s attractiveness to tourists is important, the existence of a world-class tourism infrastructure like the New Manila International Airport will help boost the tourism industry as the country competes with neighboring ASEAN countries to get a big chunk of visitor arrivals in the region.
The SMC has always been at the forefront of initiating projects without cost to the government to help grow the economy.
It has successfully rehabilitated the Tullahan River and is also rehabilitating the Pasig River.
For SMC chief Ang, money should be invested to create opportunities and jobs that would empower Filipinos to improve their lives.
He has the vision and the leadership to turn this vision into reality. (PNA)