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With local airlines cleared to expand flights to the US and Europe, the Philippines is now on the verge of a tourism boom.
After more than six years in Category 2 status, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgraded the Philippines' safety rating to Category 1, allowing local airlines to mount more flights to the US. The European Union also allowed Cebu Pacific to fly to Europe.
Brussels’ decision came months after it allowed Philippine Airlines (PAL) to resume flights following a three-year absence, and almost a year since the International Civil Aviation Office (ICAO) lifted the significant safety concerns on the Philippines’ main international gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said the latest two certifications are going to have a “massive” impact on Philippine tourism.
The aviation safety upgrades from the US and EU will further open these markets. Data from DOT show that visitors from the US reached 674,564 in 2013, up by 3.36 percent year-on-year, while those from European markets like the United Kingdom and Germany reaching 122,759 and 70,949 arrivals, respectively.
Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Rosanna Tuason-Fores said the country's Category 1 status and the removal from the EU blacklist would provide more optimal connectivity in the trans-Pacific region.
"This will also allow us to be competitive as a route not just in the Philippines but also in the whole Asian region. We believe that with this new development, there will be a marked increase in the number of tourist arrivals both from the USA and Europe," Ms. Fores said.
Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the FAA upgrade and the removal from the EU blacklist would benefit the riding public, who will have improved options for air travel that are world class.
“This latest development allows us to deploy our modern and fuel-efficient Boeing 777-300ER fleet to the US, and enables us to explore new destination opportunities in one of the Philippines’ largest passenger markets,” PAL President Ramon Ang said.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the upgrade will have significant economic dividends, as carriers mount more direct flights, boosting not only tourism, but also trade and business relations between the Philippines on the one hand, and the US and the EU on the other.
“Philippine air carriers can now open more flights to the United States and have additional routes such as flying to the East Coast," he said.