The Department of Tourism (DOT) is now working closely with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the possibility of funding the development of several airports in the country by equipping them with night-rating capabilities.
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the department, through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), is set to approve in its next board meeting a P1-billion budget as part of its airport-upgrading efforts.
TIEZA is the implementing agency and infrastructure arm of the DOT.
“We must make sure that it is not only more fun in the Philippines, but much safer too,” Romulo-Puyat said.
Tourism and transportation officials met at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga to strengthen the tourism infrastructure convergence program and ensure the country’s tourism industry is off to another productive year with enhanced infrastructure and increased connectivity.
The tourism chief and DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade led the signing of a memorandum of agreement on the Institutionalized Leveraging of Infrastructure Program for Airport Development (iLIPAD) that aims to synchronize efforts to boost airport and route development programs.
Tugade expressed his full support and commitment to work with the DOT.
“I would like to thank the Department of Tourism. This gesture is very encouraging, because believe it or not, the capacity of all commercially-operating airports in the Philippines has to be night-rated in order that they make sense and the efficiency desired can be achieved,” the transportation chief said.
“Tourism and connectivity will be closely linked in the next two decades.”
Meanwhile, Romulo-Puyat said tourism and connectivity will be closely linked in the next two decades in the same way the convergence approach today enables mutually beneficial cooperation between the DOT, different agencies and the private sector.
“It is the sort of cooperation that will help ensure the success of one of our latest projects, the DOT’s Transforming Communities Towards Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Tourism (TouRIST) Program,” she said.
The tourism head added that the program leverages the existing convergence between DOT and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for tourism roads, DPWH-DOTr for access roads to airports and partnerships with other agencies and the private sector.
The convergence program is an implementation of Section 34 of Republic Act 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009 and the National Tourism Development Program for 2016-2022.
The DOTr and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)are facilitating the construction of new airports including the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport.
Romulo-Puyat also cited the near completion of a new terminal at the Clark International Airport, just 30 minutes away from New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, which was the main site of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).
“In the works are the construction of a new international airport in Daraga, Albay.”
In line with the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build Program and as part of the efforts to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), she said in the works are the construction of a new international airport in Daraga, Albay, as well as expansion plans for the Davao, Iloilo, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, and Laguindingan international airports.
Aside from Romulo-Puyat and Tugade, others present during the event were DOT Undersecretaries Arturo Boncato Jr. and Manuel Tamayo, DOT-Central Luzon director Carolina Uy, and officials of TIEZA and CAAP.
Representatives from the private sector who also attended include officials from the Philippine Airlines, Air Asia Philippines, Cebu Pacific, Air Swift, Air Juan, Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation and LIPAD Consortium.