Boracay Island is expected to have more visitors as domestic carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) launched Thursday the daily flight service Cebu-Boracay via Caticlan.
“Our business is as good as the flow of passengers. Tourism is the backbone industry of Boracay. This additional flight is welcome news for us,” Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Boracay president Charlie Uy told news reporters and passengers yesterday at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
CEB uses its latest ATR72-500 turboprop carrier, which can accommodate 70 passengers, for the flight.
“This is the first ever biggest capacity aircraft landing in Boracay (through Caticlan airport). CEB is also the first national flag carrier landing in Caticlan,” Uy said, lauding the airline’s entry into Caticlan, the gateway destination to Boracay.
Entry points to Boracay include Caticlan and Kalibo in Aklan, with the latter now catering to 40 flights daily from other domestic airline carriers.
“Boracay has one of the world’s best beaches. More Filipinos and foreign tourists will now be able to spend less on their air travel and more on the fun and exciting activities the island has to offer,” said Candice Iyog, CEB spokesperson.
In a press statement, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano expressed his appreciation for CEB’s expansion. He said it signifies the airline company’s support for the country’s domestic tourism.
“It is an immediate response to the anticipated demand for additional flight connections to Boracay, especially at the height of the summer season,” he said.
In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu, Yu said Boracay, whose tourism potentials have been growing “leaps and bounds,” has registered some 600,000 tourists last year.
He said local tourism stakeholders are targeting to attract one million tourists in the next two years.
Domestic tourists still account largely for the total number of visitor arrivals in the island while foreign tourists- Europeans, Americans, Chinese and Koreans- are growing significantly year-on-year.
A present, Boracay has about 4,000 rooms, said Yu, who is also president of Patio Pacific Boracay, a high-end 66-room hotel.
Yu also dismissed talks that Boracay is competing with Cebu’s world-class beach resorts.
“Cebu has its own charm like Badian, Bantayan and Malapascua, which are known for diving sites,” he said. He said the country has many diverse natural attractions that complement each other, thus making the Philippines an emerging leisure destination in Asia.
In a related interview, CEB public relations consultant Charles Lim said the airline’s maiden flight for Cebu-Caticlan service carried 52 paying passengers, a clear indication of a strong demand.
Lim is optimistic that more direct flights between Cebu and Caticlan will be established in the coming years, especially since the Department of Tourism is intensifying its marketing promotions of regional destinations, with Cebu as the hub.
CEB also announced that it is acquiring up to 18 ATR72-500 aircraft, six of which are expected to be delivered this year and four more in 2009. The fleet expansion costs about $330 million.
ATR, manufactured by Avions de Transport Regional, leads in the 50- to 74-seat turboprop market.