Business opportunities and boosts in tourism await Cebu with more flights scheduled directly from China to the Visayas in 2017. Quoting a Xiamen Air Travel official, General Manager Deng Dongtao, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced that more direct flights are expected from China to Cebu this year.
“That’s great news to us. This will open doors to more Chinese tourists soon,” Edilberto Mendoza, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators, said in a text message to Cebu Daily News on January 18.
There will also be new routes from Cebu to Fuzhou and Cebu to Quanzhou. This development is an offshoot of the reactivation of the Xiamen-Cebu route in March 2016. The route involves three flights per week and is according to the economic diplomacy thrusts of the Consulate General, stressing the sister-city partnership between the cities Cebu and Xiamen.
Cebu’s top five tourists include Chinese nationals, as seen from the records of the tourism department in Central Visayas (DOT-7).
“The entry of Xiamen Air will definitely increase Chinese arrivals in Cebu,” Mendoza said.
China placed fourth, according to country of origin and in terms of total number of visitors in Cebu from the months of January to September in 2016. It had 74,421 Chinese tourists. But actually, it stands third in the entire Central Visayas with 170,874 Chinese tourists.
After President Rodrigo Duterte’s famous state visit to China in 2016, the DOT sees some 3 million Chinese tourists visiting various parts of the country in 2017.
And it’s not just tourism boosting as a result of more direct flights from China to Cebu. The business sector is likely to get benefits, too.
“This is a great development for Cebu! It’s complimentary to the efforts of Cebu Chamber to increase trade and investment opportunities with China,” said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Melanie Ng.
As more such air travel routes are added, the business community is afforded more and probably better travel and logistics options, especially the shipment of goods and commodities, Ng added.
For his part, Glenn Soco, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICC) president, sees how this development can boost the city’s trade relations with China.
“It will likewise reinforce Cebu’s position as a gateway to Asia and the rest of the world,” the MICC president added.
Through the years, CCCI and MCCI have been looking for ways to connect with counterparts in China by exploring trade missions and expos. The new flight routes this year would strengthen air linkages connections between the country and Fujian province, plus the Xiamen-manila route, Xiamen-Cebu route and the Quanzhou (Jinjiang)-Manila route.
DOT-7 formerly announced it was very optimistic about meeting its 5.8 million target visitors for 2016 with more direct routes opened up in the region. More airlines now fly direct coming from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to Narita in Japan, Singapore, Incheon in Korea, Los Angeles and Taipei, to mention a few.
Chief Executive Adviser Andrew Harrison, GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Inc. (GMCAC) said in a statement how they will focus on establishing more international connections after major renovations and improvements in the city airport are done and the terminal finally opens in June 2018. GMCAC manages the terminal operations, among other areas, of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
Harrison sees how airport renovations will prompt business opportunities and tourism in Cebu and the rest of the Philippines.
The air terminal is presently serving 14 international air routes and 26 local air routes together with 19 partner airlines.
The MCIA Terminal 2, where the renovations are on-going, is seen to improve the passenger-carrying capacity of the airport to 15 million passengers per year from its current 4.5 million capacity.