by Mortz C. Ortigoza
When I was in Cebu City recently, I was amazed at a bevy of Chinese tourists queuing at the lobby of the swanky Water Front Hotel & Casino as their buses kept unloading them even at the wee hours of the night.
That’s why I wondered why Chinese tourists were not on the top list of visitors at the Hundred Islands in Alaminos City. Instead, those that top there were Filipino expatriates (balikbayan), Americans, and Canadians.
“Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao said that last year there were 270 thousand Chinese tourists that visited our country. It is winter now in China, and Alaminos should have a piece of action on the number of these tourists,” I posed to Alaminos City Mayor Nani Braganza recently during the press conference he called with Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
The mayor said that unlike Filipino and Caucasian backpackers who could travel with their family only and could hop from one bus to another, Chinese travelled by batches in buses.
He explained their absence was due to the absence of an airport there. The presence of an airport was the reason Nani ‘s best friend for the “governorship” incumbent governor Amado T. Espino “frantically” want to see the extension of the runway of the airport in Lingayen by 200 meters.
That is the same reason that Mayor Braganza wants to see an airport built in his city so he can attract more tourists to his city’s pristine beaches.
With an extended runway, medium range airlines could land there with those chinky-eyed Sinos wide-eyed as they descend from the plane’s stairs.
Susmariosep, these Chinese are financially empowered every year thanks to their bullish economy that gives them a decade of financial ejaculation of an average of 9% GDP growth.
With an airport, it’s not only the Chinese who would be ubiquitous in Pangasinan, we would be seeing the South Koreans, too. They are the linchpin to our local tourism economy as it would be impossible in the next few years for us to see an industrialized Pangasinan-- as foreign investors prefer to go at this moment to the CALABAR Zone, or in Subic.
Take a look why the descendants of Mao and Deng Xiao Ping are the “in-thing.” According to the International Air Transport Association that I saw at the newspaper cum wrapper of the Tinapa (smoked fish) that my wife bought lately “Chinese international travel is expected to expand from 49.2 million passengers in 2009 to 82.1 million in 2014. This 10.8% average annual growth ranks China as the fastest growing market. By 2014, it will be the eight largest market in the world”.
Susmariosep, here is another wrapper of Daing (another smoked fish) that I read with gusto. It says that we were already at the abyss in the manufacturing of cars that should be giving us more employment. It says there that out of 2,123,746 vehicles produced by five ASEAN countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines, our country pathetically contributed only 80,477 units or 28.7 percent.
“Its closest competitor, Vietnam ranked fourth with 106,166 units produced in 2010 although this was 1.5 percent reduction from its 2009 production of 107,760 units.
Thailand, the recognized Detroit in ASEAN, breached the million unit sales mark as it produced 1,645,304 units of four-wheeled vehicles or 64.6 percent higher than its 2009 production of 999,378 units.
Indonesia followed with 999,378 or 51.1 percent higher than the 464,816 units produced in 2009. Malaysia followed with 567,715 unit production volume or 16 percent higher than the 2009 production of 489,269 (Manila Bulletin, February 27, 2011).”
We Pangasinenses should pressure the national government to provide funds or initiate marketing strategies to attract Private-Public Partnership for an airport so we can get rid of our Pariah perceptions.
We should remember that we already missed the tourism bus in South East Asia.
In 1991, the Philippines and Indonesia drew in the same number of foreign tourists: one million. In 2005, the Philippines drew in only 2.6 million, Indonesia 6 million, despite the Bali bombing of 2002. Malaysia attracted 15 million tourists, Thailand 13 million.
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