Modernizing gateways top priority – Frasco
BY MOISES CRUZ
The Manila Times
TOURISM Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco on Thursday said improvement of tourism infrastructure and accessibility is the most vital among her department’s seven objectives for increasING TOURIST TRAFfiC IN THE COUNTRY. Guesting at The Manila Times Forum on “Encompassing Sustainability and Future-Proofing the Economy,” Frasco said upgrading the country’s gateways, particularly airports, will go a long way in luring more tourists. She identified the other objectives as: cohesive and comprehensive digitalization and connectivity, enhancement of the overall tourist experience, equalization of tourism product development and promotion, diversification of the tourism portfolio through multidimensional tourism, maximization of domestic and international tourism, and strengthening tourism governance through close collaborations with national and local stakeholders. Frasco also presented solutions, such as boosting efficiency and expanding routes, enhancing tourist experience, and minimizing airport glitches. She said the Department of Tourism sits with the aviation board of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and makes suggestions on how to improve operations not only in terms of aesthetics but also in efficiency. On New Year’s Day, 361 flights to and from Manila were either canceled, diverted, or delayed due to a power failure that knocked out the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ air navigation services. Frasco suggested minor changes such as conducting a time and motion study from the time tourists arrive to the time they leave to identify and eliminate “pain” areas. She said seminars on the Filipino brand of excellence for frontline airport tourism workers have already started to help them realize the importance of always treating the country’s visitors with compassion and care. “Second, our gateways are important in providing connectivity to our travelers. That is why we aggressively conducted intense negotiations with international and domestic airlines, and we do have a specific routes development team that is dedicated to chasing after flights that were halted during the pandemic as well as flights instituted not just in Manila but across the hosts of our secondary airports,” she said. She mentioned that the Philippines had flights from Clark to Caticlan, Clark to Mindanao, Cebu to Baguio, and Cebu to Bangkok. “Third is accessibility, which is not just at airports but at other points of access like seaports and landports. Our collaboration with DoTr would not be limited to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, but also with Davao and Cebu airports,” Frasco said. “With collaboration with local government units, we can reduce waiting time and digitalize the experience of arriving,” she said.