Why 'open skies' is not enough to boost PH tourism

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 11 2014 03:19 PM | Updated as of Apr 11 2014 11:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Now that Philippine carriers are allowed more flights to US and Europe, a tourism industry insider said more work needs to be done to boost tourism.

Robert Lim Joseph, founder of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies, said government should continue developing infrastructure including airports and highways to attract tourists.

“It’s not the opening of the skies, it’s the development of infrastructure and hotels and all of these things,” he told ANC on Friday.

He urged the Department of Transportation and Communications to deliver in its promise of building more airports and rehabilitating existing ones for the tourism sector to meet its target of 10 million tourists a year.

Currently, the country has about 4.6 million tourists, well below the government’s target.

“There is a lot of work that has not been done by the Department of Transportation and Communications. They have been lagging behind,” he said.

Aside from infrastructure, Joseph said government should also focus on a marketing campaign for its local carriers to allow it to be competitive with foreign airlines.

“They have to see it to that they come up with packages for the American market if they want to expand,” said Joseph.

“We have to promote the heart of the Filipino. We would like to say that the motivation here is seeing to it that our guests will be really taken cared of. They are our honored guests and when they leave the country they will be part of our family,” he added.

On Thursday, the Philippine aviation industry received good news as the US Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgraded its safety rating to Category 1.

This means Philippine Airlines can add more flights to the US, and allows other airlines to mount US flights.

The European Union (EU) also lifted the ban on Cebu Pacific on Thursday, making it the second local airline allowed to fly to Europe.