• Tourism woes worsened under PNoy


    WHEN PNoy steps down four months from now, his ‘daang matuwid’ administration leaves behind an outdated and sorely deficient tourism infrastructure caused by almost six years of inaction and neglect.

    Addressing the opening ceremony of the Asean Tourism Forum last month, PNoy expressed eagerness at soon becoming a tourist “to experience on a more personal level what millions have already realized…” If he does, he will experience the many hardships local and foreign tourists go through when they come to or leave the Philippines.

    A major headache is the current airport congestion. We experienced this first-hand during our recent trip abroad. Our Hong Kong-bound flight left the departure gate on time but we had to spend almost an hour on the NAIA tarmac waiting to be cleared for take-off.

    Flight delays are becoming an all-too-common occurrence at the country’s premier airport. It’s no longer news when outbound flights are stuck on the tarmac for an hour or more.

    Incoming flights are also are being affected by the congestion at NAIA. Today, it’s not unusual for inbound flights to be put into “holding” – a maneuver designed to delay an aircraft from landing – for 30 minutes or more.

    The air traffic congestion at NAIA is bound to get much worse very soon after PNoy signed last month, Protocols 5 and 6 of the Multilateral Agreement in Air Services (MAAS) – or the Asean “open skies” agreement – allowing foreign (and Philippine) air carriers to fly an unlimited number of times to and beyond the capital cities of other Asean countries.

    The MAAS refers to what the aviation industry regards as the unlimited third, fourth and fifth freedom rights. Unlimited third freedom is when an airline is able to fly from its home country to an airport in another country without need of prior inter-governmental approval. The fourth is when it flies back home. The fifth freedom involves an airline flying to an airport in country A (for example, the Philippines) and from there to country B (such as Thailand) before heading back to its home country (Singapore, for instance) – again without the need of inter-governmental approval.

    As it is, NAIA is so congested that, insiders say, airport officials are unable to give additional “slots” to airline companies. In aviation lingo, each flight in or out is a “slot.” And for slot-controlled airports like NAIA, there are only a limited number of flights that are allowed to arrive or depart based on the amount of runway capacity.

    The runway congestion at NAIA didn’t happen overnight. As far back as 2011, or a year after PNoy took over, transport officials already knew that air traffic congestion was “going beyond safe limits.” In fact, when Mar Roxas took over as DOTC secretary in 2012, he promised to adopt measures to ease the congestion at NAIA.

    But for the past five years, not a single infrastructure project was implemented by the Aquino administration to address the airport congestion. Even the planned rapid exit taxiways (RETs) – or exit lanes to allow aircrafts to leave the runway at higher speeds – will only be bidded out in June.

    Aside from flight delays, Filipino and foreign travelers also have to contend with other annoyances at the airport such as long lines at the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) payment counters.

    With the growth of low-fare international flights, more and more tourists are booking online. The problem, however, is that tickets bought online do not include the travel tax so this has to be paid separately to TIEZA. From the travel tax levied on departing passengers alone, TIEZA generates a cash income of some P3.6-billion annually.

    You would have thought that with that much money, former TIEZA chief operating officer Mark Lapid – who has held the post since 2008 until he resigned in September 2015 to run as senator under PNoy’s Liberal Party – would have found a way during his eight years in office to make travel tax payments easier. Well, apparently not.

    Although the travel tax can supposedly be paid online, you need to have a credit card, and only a certain credit card: Visa. TIEZA does not accept any other credit card. And assuming you’re able to pay the travel tax online, you still have to print out the official receipt and bring it to the Travel Tax Verification Counter at the airport for validation, which means lining up at same TIEZA payment counter at the airport. This absurd procedure basically defeats the very purpose of paying the travel tax online, which is to skip the TIEZA line altogether.

    With its massive cash pile, TIEZA could have easily set up an over-the-counter payment system with some top local banks at very little cost, just as many domestic airline companies do. Instead, the agency opted to “invest” hundreds of millions of pesos in a few chosen beautification and rehabilitation projects, which – some critics say – are more “rewarding.”

    And tourism officials still can’t seem to figure out why they keep missing their visitor targets for the past five years? Duh!


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. This is a refreshing article for the Yellowgram. Few months left in power and still blaming Martial Law but did not bother to improve the Airports under DOTC. I’ve experience same delays in Domestic flights. Well so much for Daang matuwid.

    2. Pinoy might be clean and did not rob this country but he is a very poor manager. He does not discipline those erring officials he appointed like Abaya, Abad, Purisima and the late LTO head. He should not have been elected as a president. He is not qualified.

      • Disagree….. he is the greatest president thief of all time with butch a bad by his side with their illegally acquired DAF fund which was declared by the SC unconstitutional by the way….

      • Pinoy paid 50 million to each senator that voted to impeach the Chief Justice Corona so his family could get a bigger payoff.

        Why ?
        The Cojuangcos, according to the Supreme Court, should be given fair and just compensation of P173 million, or Hacienda Luisita’s 1989 value when the landlords undertook their fake land reform program. The landlord clan wanted P10 billion, its present market value.

        Aquino’s appointee to the Supreme Court, the very inexperienced classmate of his, Lourdes Sereno, couldn’t convince the Court to increase the payment to the clan from P173 million to P10 billion. Sereno herself told Aquino that there was no way for her to sway the Court if Corona remained as chief justice.

        He had to be removed, and that could be done only through impeachment.

        Long story short Corona impeached, Sereno now the Chief Justice

    3. maglagay ba naman kayo ng mga sapak na presidente.. ayan napala nyo!

      LP pa more!!

    4. Mr president apologize for the farmers killed in mendiola in Jan 1987. They were just exercising their right and freedom of speech when they were massacred during pres cory`s term. They were demanding the implementation of agrarian reform over hacienda luisita

    5. The Manila airport is operating well beyond its maximum capacity and the number of passengers keep increasing. The congestion can only get worse. The solution, like our neighbors in Seoul, Taipei, HongKong and Bangkok, is to build a new airport. However, the country cannot afford a new airport which will cost over 10 billion US Dollars and about 8 to 10 years to build. Even the location is not known since real estate is also a problem. San Miguel proposed a new airport by reclamation of an area south of MOA. Other alternative was to expand Clark and add a high speed rail (like Inchon to Seoul in 35-45 minutes) from Clark to Manila. The government can’t afford it either. Only a private consortium might be able to but too many hurdles and challenges does not make it attractive a business venture.

      Perhaps the presidential candidates will offer a solution to the problem with specifics?

    6. I can see tourists wanting to go to the Philippines to see the massive poverty and the countless beggars, the polluted canals filled with trash, That is after spending time in one of the worst airports in the world.

      The 400% increase in crime over the past 5 years is a added bonus that may offer extra excitement.

      The gridlocked traffic in Manila is worth seeing, The failing Mass Transit system is certainly a tourist attraction not to mention the terrorists that target visitors.

      The substandard electric service, substandard water service, terrible internet service are just a few of the amenities offered in the Philippines.

      Come on tourists, your missing out.
      If it’s good enough for Filipinos it’s good enough for you.

      It’s more fun in the Philippines, right ?

    7. the manila airport is a shame for this country. but it reflects the situation in this country …

    8. Mr. Dulay, Go back to NAIA to know its current situation. Once the expressway is done, titigil ka sa kakareklamo.

      What happened to El Nido, Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Intramuros! Great development. Yet you forgot to recognize that?

      Again, if worsened ang tourism under pnoy, stats will not lie to dispute your claim.

      Tourism Arrivals:
      Under GMA:
      2000 1,992,169
      2001 1,796,893
      2002 1,932,677
      2003 1,907,226
      2004 2,291,347
      2005 2,623,084
      2006 2,843,335
      2007 3,091,993
      2008 3,139,422
      2009 3,017,099

      Under PNoy:
      2010 3,520,471
      2011 3,917,454
      2012 4,272,811
      2013 4,681,307
      2014 4,833,368
      2015 5,360,682

      Again, numbers do not lie. See the stat. If our tourism strategy is bad, look at the numbers.

      • San basurahan mo napulot ang data mo…. specify your source….kasi all of us are complaining about the status in NAIA…ikaw ba e nakarating Na Ng NAIA o nag abroad or nag domestic flight k n ba?….just asking

      • Here are some more tourism numbers


        China 55.6 million
        Hong Kong 27.8 million
        Malaysia 27.4 million
        Thailand 24.8 million
        Singapore 15 million
        Macau 14.5 million
        South Korea 14.2 million
        Japan 13.4 million
        Taiwan 10.4 million
        Indonesia 9.4 million
        Philippines 4.8 million

        Yea look at the numbers,
        Need a better slogan.

    9. i have not paid any tax at NAIA for years , but yes its hell going to and from the airport , and long delays sometimes for take off. they are just playing catch up because it was named worst airport in the world.

    10. and the PNoy tards are saying that tourism in the Philippines has never been so good!I can count the foreigners that I see at the airport each time I travel both inbound and outbound. These PNoy diehards are so in denial on the true state of the airport among other things.

    11. Ooh Mr.Dulay,Sir i’ve just experienced 5 hours delay from Davao to Manila,thats not counting the two hours,at least,that all passengers have to be in the airport,,,tsk tsk,talking about having more tourists in the country?,big B S coming from the big B.S Aquino himself