Doubled arrivals expected
Bohol Tourism Office head Josephine Cabarrus is optimistic a fresh approach to airport management and operations will make the island’s new airport at par with other international airports.
The opening of the new Bohol-Panglao International Airport – tagged as the “green gateway to the world” — opens a world of tourism possibilities for the province of Bohol.
Inaugurated last November by President Rodrigo Duterte, the airport is already helping boost the local tourism industry.
With the prospect of tourist arrivals doubling this year, Cabarrus said airport services should be elevated to international standards. “Learning from how the Tagbilaran airport was managed, we know there are things to be improved. If you say that you have an international facility, then you should have an international-level service,” she stressed.
According to airport consultant ICF, tourism in Bohol has grown at an impressive annual rate of 25.2 percent from 2011 to 2017, and by 30 percent from 2016 to 2017, to reach an estimate of 1.3 million tourists.
Panglao is the most popular tourist destination in Bohol and welcomed 704,000 tourists in 2017.
“We’re looking at Bohol-Panglao airport to be a game changer for the economy of not only Panglao, but of the whole province,” Cabarrus noted.
Jobs and lower fares
An offshoot of a flourishing tourism industry, she said, is increased job generation from the construction, retail, food and transportation sectors.
“We have been trying to develop tourism areas and get the people out of Panglao and to other travel destinations in Bohol,” the tourism official noted, adding this will create an economy even for small businesses that cater to both local and foreign visitors.
Furthermore, Cabarrus claimed the limiting runway at the old Tagbilaran airport is a factor of non-competitive airfares to and from Bohol, which hamper its full potential as a tourist destination.
“For the longest time, we have been at the mercy of very expensive airfares. For instance, a one-way trip between Manila and Bohol at peak season can be around P8,000 to P10,000.
[It’s] almost the same fare [rate] to Hong Kong. We’re hoping that with the operation of the new airport, the fares could be lower due to supply and demand,” she said.