The number of tourists visiting Coron in northern Palawan has continued to increase because of the upgraded airport in the town, boosting local economy and providing livelihood opportunities to the residents, Coron Mayor Marjo Reyes said.
”The airport project has greatly helped our tourism industry and has created a chain reaction in our local economy," Reyes said.
He said the Francisco Reyes airport located on Busuanga Island in Coron has enhanced tourism, not only in the town but also in other municipalities in the Calamianes Island Group (Culion, Busuanga and Linapacan).
The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) funded the P150-million Coron Philippines airport project.
”It creates a chain reaction from among our small to large tourism and business and establishments here”, Reyes, a younger brother of Governor Joel T. Reyes, said.
”It provides more employment and sustains the economic growth in Coron,” he added, citing that at least 12 municipal and provincial governments-employed personnel are also detailed for the airport’s operation.
Reyes cited that since the opening of the airport project last November, tourist arrivals both domestic and international, have registered an increase from 5,000 to 25,000 on a quarterly basis.
The projected tourist arrivals in the area is expected to reach up to 250,000 and 150,000 by 2010 and 30 percent of the project tourists arrivals will be handled by the airport.
The Francisco Reyes airport serves as a jump-off point to the nearby Calamian Group of Islands considered as among country’s major tourist destinations.
Meanwhile, Provincial Board Member and Philippine Councilor’s League (PCL)-Palawan president Jim Gerald Pe said the airport has provided more tourism and economic activities, because it encourages more local and foreign tourists and traders to visit Coron and other Calamianes towns that are known for their pristine beaches and dive spots.
Pe, a native of Coron Philippines, said the future of Calamianes’ tourism industry rests in the natural wonders that serve as year-round attractions for visitors.
He foresees that Calamianes will overtake Puerto Princesa City in three to five years in terms of tourist arrivals.
On the other hand, Al B. Linsangan III, president of Calamianes Association of Tourism Establishments (CATE), said that different tourism establishments in Calamianes have also observed an influx of tourists due to upgraded airport.
CATE is composed of more than 50 tourism-related business establishments which are uniting efforts to further attain a sustainable tourism approach aimed to achieve long term benefits through balanced economic and environmental protection of the Calamianes area.
Linsangan said CATE officers and members have vowed to provide competitive tourism services and rates with those in Boracay.
Further enhancing tourism competitiveness in the area, was the groundbreaking ceremony of the multi-million dollar island resort project on Dinaran Island.
Businessman Salvador Zamora partnered with Banyan Tree Holdings Limited (Banyan Tree) to open a hotel and resort in the 55-hectare uninhabited Dinaran island that is surrounded by stretches of white-sand beach which is just 15 minutes away by speedboat from the town proper.
To date, Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR), Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and Asian Spirit are regularly servicing the Manila-Coron Philippines direct flight.