Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco revealed significant developments in air connectivity that are poised to propel Philippine tourism to new heights. These advancements align with the collaborative efforts under the Marcos administration’s commitment to fortify the country’s tourism industry.

As part of Secretary Frasco’s ongoing efforts to address the pressing needs of the tourism sector, air connectivity emerged as a paramount concern during her listening tours with stakeholders throughout the past year. Responding to this, the DOT initiated a convergence with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and engaged key players in the aviation industry, including the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

“We recognize the urgent need to increase the number of flights into the country and enhance overall accessibility for both our foreign and domestic guests. In alignment with our National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023-2028, we have been working tirelessly with our partners to convey that the Philippine government, under President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr., is committed to opening up the country to business and tourism,” Secretary Frasco emphasized.

Under the DOT’s leadership, route development initiatives have been implemented, including meetings with international and local air carriers to promote the Philippines as a destination and forge partnerships for the sustainable development of the tourism industry. The DOT has also actively participated in key international aviation networking events and business-to-business (B2B) activities such as Routes Asia and Routes World.

The DOT’s Routes Development report for June 2023 highlights noteworthy improvements in international gateways, showcasing significant growth in incoming frequencies and seats per week. Some key statistics include:

  1. Clark experienced a 180% increase in incoming scheduled frequencies and a 215% increase in incoming seats.
  2. Manila saw a 75% increase in incoming frequencies and a 120% increase in incoming seats.
  3. Kalibo recorded a remarkable 640% increase in incoming frequencies and a 409% increase in incoming seats.
  4. Cebu demonstrated a 300% increase in incoming frequencies and a 297% increase in incoming seats.
  5. Bohol saw a 200% increase in incoming frequencies and a 128% increase in incoming seats.
  6. Davao experienced a 50% increase in incoming frequencies and a 38% increase in incoming seats.

Between June and July 2023, the country welcomed 58 new incoming weekly frequencies from various origin cities into its international gateways.

The DOT acknowledges the efforts of its partners, including the Department of Transportation (DOTr) led by Secretary Bautista, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) led by Captain Manuel Tamayo, as well as the airlines that have responded to the needs of tourists and the traveling public by resuming flights that were halted due to the pandemic and instituting new flights to reinvigorate the country’s tourism industry.

On the international front, the DOT also reported a surge in incoming weekly frequencies, with highlights including:

  • Manila: 7 Zip Air flights from Tokyo, and 2 Air China flights from Chengdu.
  • Cebu: 7 China Eastern Airlines flights from Shanghai, 4 Philippine Air Asia flights from Tokyo, 2 Cebu Pacific flights from Taipei, and an increase from 5 to 7 Asiana Airlines flights from Incheon.
  • Bohol: 2 Asiana Airlines and 7 Air Busan flights from Seoul.
  • Kalibo: 3 flights from Hangzhou, 3 flights from Ningbo, and 3 flights from Wenzhou via Loong Air, 4 Ok Airways flights from Chengdu, and 2 TigerAir Taiwan flights from Taipei.
  • Clark: 7 Asiana Airlines flights from Seoul.
  • Caticlan: 3 Royal Airways flights from Hong Kong.
  • Cagayan North: 2 Royal Airway flights from Macau.

The DOT is also pleased to announce a remarkable increase in domestic air connectivity with at least 17 city pairs and around 83 incoming weekly frequencies launched between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023. This includes new domestic air routes such as Cebu-Baguio, Cebu-Borongan, and Cebu-Naga.

The Department’s Philippine Experience Program and regional travel expos aim to foster collaboration with the aviation industry to improve connectivity across the country and cater to the growing demands of travelers.

In a momentous announcement, the DOT expresses its elation at United Airlines’ plans to introduce nonstop flights connecting Manila with San Francisco starting in October. At present, United operates flights to Manila from Guam and Palau. This development marks United Airlines as the first American carrier to fly direct to Manila from continental US in a significant period.

The DOT remains steadfast in its commitment to fortifying the country’s tourism industry and fostering partnerships that contribute to sustainable growth.

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