MANILA — Boracay in the Philippines is a leading example of a tourist destination in the country that has managed to evolve despite limitations in airport infrastructure, a hospitality consultancy expert said Wednesday.
C9 Hotelworks founder and managing director Bill Barnett said that despite limitations in the Caticlan airport Boracay has managed to rely on the distant larger Kalibo International Airport as a mainstream point of access.
Barnett lauded the upgrade of Caticlan’s Godofredo P. Ramos Airport, which is extending its runway by 1,800 metres, enough to accommodate Airbus and Boeing single-aisle jets.
This extended runway, he said, will see a larger passenger terminal added within the next two years. One key feature of the enhanced runway is the ability to land planes at night which will be a strong boost to airlift.
“Boracay interests us but we also ask ourselves, ‘Is Boracay going sink anytime soon because there’s so much development?’ Barnett said in an interview in Makati City.
Spreading the business
Barnett said that aside from relying on another airport as a point of access in Boracay, the government is in the right track of utilizing Palawan to help address overcapacity and overdevelopment.
“There’s so much focus on Boracay but Palawan can alleviate spread of the business. San Vicente (in Palawan) has potential,” Barnett said referring to the country’s flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone (TEZ).
San Vicente was identified as the first flagship TEZ for its forests, islands, coves, and most specially its 14.7-kilometer shoreline, which is said to be the longest in the world.
Among the components of the TEZ is the San Vicente Airport which will be the main entry point for most tourists once operational.
Barnett, however, suggested there should be more hotel rooms built in San Vicente to spur airport development or simply put, “make people want to fly there.”
”Tourism numbers would be stronger if there are more tourism products created that are ready,” Barnett said.
He meanwhile stressed the importance of infrastructure development to “transcend political regimes.”
”An airport takes longer than one political regime so you have to have consistency in policy. Not just after a new government comes, there will be policy and infrastructure changes. That’s the biggest backlog for tourism.
He said that while the Philippines has had well defined tourism masterplans, the key in was to execute them correctly through public-private partnership (PPP). Azer Parrocha/PNA/northboundasia.com