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Cebu Pacific fifth hub in Iloilo is stimulating city’s tourism development

Low cost carrier Cebu Pacific opens in October a fifth hub in Iloilo, the capital of Western Visayas, providing for the first time international direct access to this part of the Philippines. It is seen as a major boost for the city’s development

MANILA- Iloilo still lacks the international notoriety of Cebu, Boracay or even Palawan. But this could change dramatically as Cebu Pacific, Philippines’ largest air carrier, looks at opening its fifth hub in the capital of the Western Visayas. Cebu Pacific will launch in November direct services from Iloilo to Hong Kong, Singapore, Puerto Princesa (Palawan) and General Santos (Mindanao) this November in complement to its current direct services from Iloilo to Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

Starting November 8, 2012, the carrier will launch twice weekly flights from Iloilo to Hong Kong, and four weekly flights from Iloilo to General Santos. It will also add one Iloilo-Manila daily service on the same day, making it a 7 times daily Iloilo-Manila service. A day later, Cebu Pacific will start thrice weekly flights from Iloilo to Singapore and thrice weekly flights from Iloilo to Puerto Princesa.

We are proud to launch Iloilo as our 5th hub, since these new routes will greatly contribute to the tourism and trade in Western Visayas. Direct international flights also mean easy access for foreign tourists and overseas Filipino workers, since there will be no more need to pass through Manila or Cebu,” said Cebu Pacific Vice President for Marketing Candice Iyog.

Iloilo Governor and the regional Department of Tourism (DOT)- Region 6 will now have to work hard to promote the destination which lacks international visibility. So far, the most famous Iloilo site is the Miag-ao Church built in 1786 by Spanish Augustinian missionaries and today listed as UNESCO world heritage.

Iloilo City has meanwhile ambitious plans to turn into a new tourism hub for the Visayas region and the launch of new international flights is likely to speed up investments.

Megaworld Iloilo Project is redeveloped on the old airport site which used to be in the midst of the city. It is now turned into Philippine’s largest Information Technology (IT) Hub and the longest shopping & dining strip. It will occupy a 54.5-hectare piece of land and will host offices, two hotels, a convention centre as well as a shopping mall.

The Festive Walk will stretch on a two kilometers total length and will then become the longest shopping and dining strip in the Philippines. An initial 200 meter section of the Festival Walk will be opened alongside the future Richmonde Hotel Iloilo( 90 rooms in four-star category) and the Richmonde Tower, Megaworld’s future icon.

A six-lane highway will serve as the main artery running through the entire length of the property. Total investment is estimated at US$ 450 million for the first phase with a similar requirement expected for the next phase.

They are also plan to build a theme park with a Korean firm, Super Max Rider International interested to establish a theme park. The announcement was done last year. The amusement park would stretch on two hectares of land between Megaworld and SM City and would comprise 14 major rides. It could be completed by 2015.

Packages are now created by the DOT and local tour operators to entice travellers from Hong Kong and Singapore. Singapore and Hong Kong Tourism Board came last week to visit Iloilo while a sales delegation headed by DOT Region 6 is due to organize sales mission in both Hong Kong and Singapore. 

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.