DOTr, DOT to set up TWG for airport, seaport devt

THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of Tourism (DOT) will be forming a technical working group (TWG)  to improve airports and seaports in the country.

Transportation Secretary-designate Jaime J. Bautista told the BusinessMirror this was one of the agreements he reached with Tourism Secretary-designate Christina Garcia Frasco in their meeting on Monday at the DOTr office. “We agreed to create a joint TWG that would explore improvements at certain airports and seaports to help achieve a tourism rebound.”

He added that Frasco presented to him a list of provincial airports that need improvements to better the access to tourist spots. “Our main focus, will be enhancements at the Naia [Ninoy Aquino International Airport], the Mactan Cebu International Airport, and the Davao International Airport.”

He noted that among the ongoing projects of the DOTr that will help improve the accessibility of tourism destinations in the country is the night-rating of several provincial airports. The project, started under the Duterte administration, is being implemented through the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), which has already completed the night-rating of 22 commercial airports as of June 2022.

The project is targeted to be completed by yearend with the night-rating of 12 more commercial airports.

In line with PBBM’s tourism thrust

“We will extend our full support to the needs of the DOT in its efforts to revitalize the tourism industry by modernizing the airports and seaports to be used during the expected influx of tourists to the country,” said Bautista. He emphasized that this was “in line with the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s during his Sona [State of the Nation Address] to reinvigorate tourism through enhanced transport facilities.”

Garcia Frasco had no comment as of presstime.

For his part, DOTr Undersecretary for Aviation and Airports Roberto Cecilio Lim added that both agencies are strengthening their partnership, “working together in enhancing key gateway airports like Naia, etc., and to improve the overall travel experience of the traveler in Philippine airports.”

Last week, Bautista made a surprise inspection of Naia passenger terminal 2 owned by the company he formerly headed, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and found washrooms with no water, and passengers complaining about the lack of social distancing considering that the Covid-19 virus is still around.

He also found a need to improve the lighting and airconditioning at the pre-departure area, and provision of reliable free Internet connection. While PAL owns the terminal, it is the Manila International Airport Authority that manages the terminal.

Convergence program

Recently some passengers also relayed to this paper the confusion over the One Health Pass issued by the Bureau of Quarantine, and rude airport personnel that spoil the traveler’s experience upon arrival in Manila. (See, “Travelers blamed for entry delays,” in the BusinessMirror, August 3, 2022.)

In September 2019, the DOTr and DOT forged a convergence program called “Leveraging Infrastructure Program for Airport Development” (Lipad), which  addressed improvements needed in identified priority airports, after consultations made with airlines.

Many of these priority airports fell under the DOT’s so-called tourism clusters drawn up under the National Tourism Development Plan of 2016-2022, seven of which are in northern Philippines, six in central Philippines, and seven in southern Philippines. Of these clusters, nine are dubbed “gateway clusters,” which host international airports, as well as 49 tourism development areas.

As of December 2021, the DOTr completed 236 airport projects including the Panglao International Airport in Bohol, the Butuan airport, the Zamboanga International Airport, the new terminals at Clark International Airport in Pampanga, and at the MCIA.