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The New Iloilo Airport at Cabatuan, Iloilo

News Blog about the New Iloilo Airport

Friday, January 12, 2007

‘Sell’ WV airports now – Gordon

Panay News. 1/12/2007

By DAVID ISRAEL SINAY

ILOILO City – The government should start promoting the two airports of international standards in Western Visayas even before they fully operate to catch investors’ interest and to boost the tourism potentials of the region, a senator said.

Sen. Richard Gordon, former tourism secretar, said the government should tap travel agencies from Hong Kong, Japan, China and other countries to promote the opening of the New Iloilo Airport of International Standards and Silay City International Airport in Negros Occidental.
Gordon was one of the keynote speakers of the Liga ng mga Barangay – Iloilo Province Chapter during its convention at the Centennial Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Alta Tierra Village, Jaro district yesterday.

“Even if you have an international airport and you do not have the hotels, kakalimutan kayo (they will forget you),” Gordon also stressed in a press conference at Tatoy’s Manokan in Arevalo district here.

He said that once the airports in Silay City and the New Iloilo Airport opens, hotel rooms will be a necessity.

Gordon stressed that Iloilo City, being the center of commerce in Western Visayas, must address the need.

“The government should now start inviting ambassadors and travel agencies in Asia to promote the airports prior its operation to invite businesses. Are we going to wait for its opening before we do it?” asked the former tourism secretary.

During his stint in the Department of Tourism, Gordon initiated the WOW (Wealth of Wonders) Philippines program which encouraged foreigners to visit the country and experience what it has to offer.

Gordon recalled getting flak for this concept; he said some immediately concluded that the program will not prosper but he proved them wrong.

“We are an archipelagic country. Tourism should be a priority of the government. We have to focus on destinations now that we have (international) airports…to uplift our tourism industry,” he said.

AIRPORTS

Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. disclosed Friday that the New Iloilo Airport straddling the municipal boundaries of Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara towns here is 98 percent finished.
The P6.1-billion New Iloilo Airport, which sits on a 188-hectare airport complex, aims to meet the increasing air passenger and cargo traffic in Iloilo and as well boost economic development in the region.

On January 26, 2007, Tupas said a test flight shall be conducted to assess operation of aviation facilities prior its full operation in April this year.

Former Senate President Franklin Drilon and Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza will come over for the test flight, Tupas said.

Also, the P4.5-billion new Silay City Airport is expected to be operational by the middle of the year despite the delays in construction due to rebel attacks made at the construction site in October last year.
Reports said about 50 suspected members of the New People’s Army blew up P30-million worth of construction equipment including a computerized batching plant and paving equipment owned by Hanjin International of South Korea, and a power generator by Takenaka-Itochu of Japan. The two airports are financed under the Yen Loan Package of the Japan Bank of International Cooperation.

LACK OF HOTELS

In the past years, one of the problems the City of Iloilo encountered with the influx of foreign and local tourists is the billeting accommodation capacity of hotel rooms and lodging houses.
Foreign and local tourists flock the region’s center of commerce, especially during annual festivities like the Dinagyang Festival. This, Mayor Jerry Treñas said despite “most of the local tourists coming over for the festival have friends and relatives to stay here (to accommodate them not in hotels and lodging houses).

Being short of hotel rooms, Treñas said some of the tourists tend to stay in the nearby island province of Guimaras. A 30-minute ride on a ferry would bring tourists to the City of Iloilo.
Also, “some stay in Bacolod City and just ferry during the highlights of the activity,” he added. However, Treñas is confident that the lack of hotel rooms is no obstacle for local and foreign tourists to enjoy, see and experience the Dinagyang festivities.

During this occasion, the city government is encouraging some shipping lines to operate floating hotels during the arrival of tourists, particularly on occasions as big as the Dinagyang Festival.

“Hopefully, these demands would encourage entrepreneurs to put up more structures needed for the visitors,” he said.

For 2007, Treñas said there will be several hotel establishments to open this month anticipating the famous festival celebration

Panay News. 1/12/2007

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