PAMPANGA, PHILIPPINES — The Department of Tourism (DOT) pledged its support for the continuity of the infrastructure program of the Duterte administration, saying it is a big boost to tourism activities in the country.
Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat made the commitment on Saturday (July 17) as she joined President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Senator Bong Go, Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Secretary Vince Dizon in inspecting the completed New Terminal Building of the Clark International Airport, which is considered to be part of the legacy of the Duterte administration’s ambitious Build, Build, Build program.
“Having world-class air, land and sea infrastructure such as the Clark Airport will help Philippine tourism bounce back sooner,” Puyat said.
The operations and management of the Clark Airport will be overseen by the Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp. (LIPAD), a consortium between Changi Airports Philippines Pte. Ltd., Filinvest Development Corporation, JG Summit Holdings, Inc., and Philippine Airport Ground Solutions (PAGSS) Inc.
Boosting air connectivity is classified as one of the priorities of the DOT under the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) for 2016 to 2022, hence the significance of Clark Airport’s new terminal building completion, Puyat added.
Tourist arrivals in Clark Airport totaled 1.98 million in 2019, which dropped to just 494,387 in 2020 and 51,584 in the first half of 2021 because of travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Estimated tourist receipts stood at just Php 6.23 billion in 2020 and Php 2.32 billion for far in 2021, a notable reduction from the recorded Php 19.66 billion in 2019.
The Department stressed that the fastest way to restore tourism to pre-pandemic levels is to ensure that tourism destinations and establishments comply with the necessary health and safety protocols and to continue expanding the connectivity between tourism markets and destinations.
The DOT had spearheaded convergence initiatives such as the Transforming Communities towards Resilient, Inclusive and Sustainable Tourism (TouRIST) Program, the Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP), and the Leveraging Infrastructure Program for Airport Development (LIPAD) in the effort to promote accessibility of more tourism destinations and increased mobility in the country.