ILOILO CITY - Local Filipino newspaper ‘Inquirer Visayas’ reports that civil aviation and tourism officials in Western Visayas are gearing up for the opening of direct international flights to and from the Iloilo International Airport on November 8.
Tourism regional director Helen Catalbas said the inaugural flight from Iloilo to Hong Kong of budget carrier Cebu Pacific would be launched with a program at 6 p.m. on November 8, just hours before the 11:10 p.m. flight. “We are all set and this will be a big boost forIloilo andWestern Visayas,” Catalbas told the Inquirer on Sunday.
Cebu Pacific’s flights between Iloilo and Singapore will commence on November 9. The Iloilo-Hong Kong flights will be twice weekly while the Iloilo-Singapore trips will be thrice weekly.
The inaugural flight from Hong Kong, which is scheduled to arrive in Iloilo at 4:45 a.m. on November 9, will be joined by the heads of 10 Filipino migrant worker organizations and Noel Servigon, the Philippine consul general in Hong Kong.
The maiden flight from Singapore, which will arrive inIloiloat 6:10 a.m. on November 10, will be joined by representatives of 12 Singaporean travel agencies, according to Catalbas.
The start of direct international flights makes Iloilo the fifth Cebu Pacific hub following Manila, Cebu, Clark and Davao.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on October 31 turned over six computer units to the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation that will be used for the scanning and verification of passports for international passengers. The DOT has also put up a desk of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority for the collection of the P1,620 travel tax for Filipino travellers.
Tourist arrivals in Western Visayas are expected to increase significantly with the opening of regular international flights along with regional flights earlier this year from the Iloilo airport. Catalbas said a 15-percent increase in domestic and foreign tourists is expected this year compared to the 2.47 million tourist arrivals last year.Iloiloairport in Cabatuan town opened in June 2007.