BY ROEL AMAZONA – PNA | 9 JULY 2019
ORMOC CITY, Leyte – The development of Ormoc City Airport is a big boost to the tourism sector of Northwest Leyte Tourism Corridor, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Monday.
Access and connectivity are really crucial for the tourism sector in the northwestern part of Leyte and Biliran province because the area is endowed with natural wonders, Department of Tourism Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said.
“A new airport that can service wider aircraft is a positive development for us because this means that we can now further develop new connectivity with a new gateway in the other side of Leyte,” she told the Philippine News Agency.
Majority of tourists visiting Eastern Visayas use the Tacloban airport as their main gateway to get to different parts of the region. Travel time from the city to their destinations in northwestern Leyte is two to three hours.
“This two to three hours or sometimes four hours travel time from Tacloban to a tourist destination is very inconvenient to our tourists,” Tiopes said.
Most of the popular tourist destinations in Leyte Island are located in the Northwest Leyte Tourism Corridor, such as Lake Danao, Tongonan Hot Spring and Alto Peak in Ormoc City; Kalanggaman Island in Palompon, Leyte; Cuatro Islas in the towns of Inopacan and Hindang, Leyte; and Sambawan Island in Maripipi, Biliran.
Kalanggaman, known for its white sandbar, is the most visited destination in the Eastern Visayas region.
“This time, they have another option. So now, we are praying that soon an airline company will be serving this new route,” Tiopes said.
The official added that tourism stakeholders should grab this opportunity and challenge of having a new airport by developing new market-ready tourism sites and for those who are in tour operations, to level up their services.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade led the inauguration of the upgraded airport here on Friday. The facility was heavily damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and by an earthquake in 2017.
The Department of Transportation allocated PHP34 million for the rehabilitation of the terminal building, PHP82 million for asphalt overlay of the runway, and PHP55 million for the runway widening project.
The terminal building has been completed while asphalt overlay works are still ongoing. The runway widening project is up for completion in 2020.
The ongoing development will convert the facility into a night-rated airport, which is capable of launching and receiving flights at night.
Leyte 4th District Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez said she is very happy with the national government’s response to her request to rehabilitate the city’s airport.
“Inviting commercial airline to operate in Ormoc is always part of the plan. It will energize the economy and people who are from the city and neighboring areas. We don’t have to travel to Tacloban because we have an operational airport in Ormoc,” Gomez said.