GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 September) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Region 12 is pushing for the opening of more flights to and from this city to go with the continuing expansion of the city airport.
Nelly Nita Dillera, DOT Region 12 director, said they are currently working with various airline companies, especially those serving international routes, to include the city airport in their operations.
The airport is currently undergoing major improvements through a P34.6-million funding from the corporate funds of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
Around P25 million was allotted for rehabilitation of the airport’s terminal building and P9.6 million for the improvement of the vehicular parking area.
The national government approved last year a P959-million budget under the Department of Transportation and Communication for the expansion of the airport.
“Alongside with these improvements, there’s an urgent need to embark into air routes development and encourage airline companies to include the city airport as among their port of entries, especially those serving international routes,” Dillera said in a statement.
The official said these moves should be done simultaneously “to maximize the use of the soon to be expanded airport.”
Dillera said the agency is currently working with tour operators for the promotion of the region to more countries and facilitate exchanges for local and foreign tourists.
She said they have engaged with agencies involved in customs, immigration, quarantine and security as well as the concerned institutions to help enhance the airport experience of passengers.
DOT-12 recorded around 2.38 million in tourist arrivals in the region last year as the local tourism industry continued to gain momentum with the area’s enhanced tourism development, promotion and marketing initiatives.
Such figure is 22 percent more than the agency’s target of 1.9 million tourist arrivals for the period.
From 2012 to 2014, DOT-12 said the region’s average growth rate for foreign tourist arrivals has reached 67 percent.
The city airport, which is classified by CAAP as an alternate international airport, mainly serves the air transport requirements of the greater part of Region 12.
The city is considered the region’s airline hub and has seen a surge in traffic following the entry of budget airfares here several years ago.
The airport serves seven regular fights and an average of 1,000 passengers daily.
Tiger Airways, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific serve five to six daily flights for the Manila-General Santos route.
PAL uses the wide-bodied Airbus 330-300 aircraft while Cebu Pacific, which serves three additional weekly flights each for the Iloilo-General Santos and Cebu–General Santos routes, utilizes Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft.
Low-cost carrier Air Asia had signified to open daily flights soon for the Manila-General Santos route. (MindaNews)