PTAA warns of increase in tour costsBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Local travel agents expect an increase in tour-package prices and hotel rates that would hurt the country’s tourism sector, all due to the government’s plan to reduce commercial flights from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
In a statement, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) urged the government to “be cautious and pragmatic in making plans for the nation’s development and improvement of its airports.”
The Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DoTC) recent move to cut commercial flights by local airlines at NAIA by as much as 30 percent would send ripples that the entire tourism industry would feel.
“Tour packages will become more expensive because it adds cost for longer stays in hotels while travelers wait longer for their flights,” PTAA president Aileen Clemente said.
“It may solve congestion in runways, but may just create congestion in airports as the passengers needlessly wait a longer time at the airports to connect to their international flights,” she added.
Earlier, budget airline Zest Airways, owned by banker and juice drink magnate Alfred Yao, complained that the DoTC’s forced reduction of flights for local airlines would strangle the local air travel sector and would lead to higher ticket prices.
Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II has denied forcing airlines to cut flights, saying that the frequency reductions were done voluntarily by companies.
Instead of asking airlines to cut flights, Zest Airways said the government should fast-track efforts to move general aviation operations—comprising charter flights and private jet hangars—out of NAIA.
Regardless of who initiated the move, the PTAA said fewer flights at NAIA, the country’s main air travel hub, would frustrate the efforts of the private sector to promote Philippine tourism.
“The language being used, alone, is creating a negative effect especially now that we want passenger traffic to reach 10 million by 2016,” Clemente said.
She added that the government should have opened discussions to other industry stakeholders—not just airlines and the government—before drastic moves were ordered.
“There has to be convergence between the Department of Tourism and the DOTC for these primary and secondary airports. You cannot stop the growth of travelers serviced by NAIA because of the economic developments in the central business districts,” Clemente said.
“You want to encourage investments and industries such as the BPOs, but the irony is they might not have the means to fly or it becomes expensive to fly,” she said.
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