Iloilo airport launches int’l flights | Global News
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Iloilo airport launches int’l flights

/ 01:11 AM November 12, 2012

ILOILO CITY—Business groups, officials and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) welcomed the opening of international flights from and to the Iloilo International Airport on Friday as a boost to travel, tourism and trade in Western Visayas.

“This is a dream come true for businessmen. We have been pushing for this and we foresee an increase in revenues from the tourism industry,” said Joe Marie Agriam, president of the Iloilo chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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He said the business sector, especially the hotel, restaurant and transport operators, has coordinated efforts to enhance preparations for the expected increase in visitors.

“We have intensified our promotional efforts to attract more guests but the OFWs and their families are expected to significantly help in sustaining international travel from and to Iloilo,” he said.

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Flights

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific launched the Iloilo-Hong Kong flights on Nov. 8 and the Iloilo-Singapore route on Nov. 9.

The airline is flying direct to Hong Kong from Iloilo every Thursday and Sunday, and to and from Singapore every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The landing of the Cebu Pacific flight from Hong Kong on Friday morning was a first for Iloilo and Western Visayas since the Iloilo International Airport began operations in 2007.

Maria Lea Victoria Lara, executive director of the Iloilo Business Club, said the opening of international flights is expected to bring in more investments especially in hotels and restaurants. It will also open potential markets for agriculture and manufacturing products of Western Visayas.

Trade

Noel Servigon, consul general of the Philippines in Hong Kong, said the direct flights would not only make travel time faster and cheaper between Iloilo and Hong Kong, these will also boost trade especially in the swift transport of mangoes and seafood from Panay Island to Hong Kong.

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Servigon, who is from Iloilo, was among the 57 passengers on board the maiden flight from Hong Kong.

He said about 165,000 Filipinos live in Hong Kong, about 152,000 of them domestic workers.

OFW organizations also welcomed the direct international flights.

“If we miss our family, we can make a quick visit, everybody is very happy,” said Jojo Sapio, chair of Migrant Ilonggo Association in Hong Kong.

Ilonggos are the second largest Filipino migrant group in Hong Kong next to Ilocanos, he said.

Joey Ortega, chair of Philippine Alliance in Hong Kong, said they would be able to promote Western Visayas further as a destination for Hong Kong visitors.

Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution, said the airline is optimistic that the Filipino inbound passengers will sustain the passenger traffic for the international flights.

She said Singapore’s large expat community will also help sustain the passenger traffic.

 

Tourism

In Hong Kong, Philippine diplomats welcomed Cebu Pacific’s inaugural flight between the Chinese territory and Iloilo City, saying the link would  boost tourism and economic activities between the two cities.

Fifty-seven passengers, led by Servigon, took the two-hour and 25 minute flight to Iloilo, considered the gateway to Western Visayas, that left Hong Kong International Airport.

The passengers were primarily Filipino workers in Hong Kong as well as various leaders and members of the Filipino community whose hometown is Iloilo.

From January to September, 88,393 visitors from Hong Kong traveled to the Philippines. This figure represents a 5.08-percent growth rate from the same period in 2011.

Other products such as crab meat and raw cane sugar present many opportunities to boost trade. With a report from Jerome Aning in Manila

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