THE CITY of Mati will soon be filled with economic activities, specifically its tourism sector, after it was chosen as one of 10 preferred destinations among netizens who participated in a crowdsourcing campaign conducted by the country’s leading airline Cebu Pacific Air (CEB).
Through this campaign, netizens, for the first time in the Philippines, were asked which destinations in the country they would want Cebu Pacific to fly next. Two emerging tourist destinations in Mindanao were popularly chosen by netizens -- Mati and Bislig, a third- class city in Surigao del Sur.
Completing the Top 10 picks among millions of netizens who responded to the campaign hashtagged #CEBFlyMeTo are Daet in Camarines Norte; Bantayan Island in Cebu; San Vicente in Palawan; Siquijor; Lal-Lo in Cagayan; Marinduque; Maasin in Southern Leyte; and Basco in Batanes.
This breakthrough campaign aimed to bring communities together to voice out their thoughts and push for their hometowns to become one of CEB’s destinations. Since the campaign was launched in late-2017, over two million netizens watched, shared, reacted, and commented with their #CEBFlyMeTo votes.
The budget airline appeared to have utilized crowdsourcing through the social media to actively engage frequent travelers, both foreign and local tourists, in the airline’s planning process which it intends to implement starting this year and the years to come.
What the airline management is doing at present is to check the feasibility of mounting commercial flights in these destinations, using criteria like market readiness, state of airport and related infrastructure, as well as safety and security in the area.
“We want to engage with Filipino travelers and give them the opportunity to be part of our planning process as we continue to connect the Philippine islands and offer the lowest fares. We are now in the process of reviewing the operational viability of flying to these destinations,” Candice Iyog, CEB vice president for marketing and distribution at Cebu Pacific.
With the Duterte administration’s massive and ambitious infrastructure program dubbed as “Build, Build, Build,” there’s no reason at all that this could not be realized. In fact, President Rodrigo R. Dutette is actively promoting this infrastructure program to foreign investors and has ordered massive spending for its implementation.
The #CEBFlyMeTo campaign is also timely, considering the fact that the provincial government of Davao Oriental is pushing for establishing an operating airport in Mati City to lattract more tourists and investors in the area.
Late last year, Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang announced he had already discussed the plan with President Duterte, who committed to help achieve it.
“We are now working on developing and improving our tourism infrastructure from roads, to airports, ports and terminals. Hopefully, we can now revive our airport in Mati City,” Dayanghirang said.
One indication for the realization of this plan is the recent visit of a team from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines that conducted an ocular inspection in the area. The Mati National Airport formerly known as Imelda R. Marcos Airport is located in Dahican, Mati City.
“We already have an airport but it is not operating because the runway needs expansion and facilities need to be improved. At present, the airport cannot accommodate commercial flights, only chartered and light planes,” the governor said.
With the revival of the Mati airport and its utilization soon for CEB’s commercial flights, tourists and travelers are given access to visit the area. Mati boasts of beautiful islands and beaches and home to the mysterious Sleeping Dragon.
Its inclusion in the list of top destinations only means that CEB could soon be flying to the area. Cebu Pacific has several brand-new aircraft set to be delivered over the coming months. From 2018 to 2022, CEB expects delivery of seven brand-new Airbus A321ceo, 32 Airbus A321neo, and eight ATR 72-600 aircraft.
The #CEBFlyMeTo campaign was inspired by an online petition spearheaded by residents and the local government of Masbate to mount commercial flights to the island-province in 2016. After feasibility and technical checks, Cebu Pacific launched commercial flights between Manila and Masbate in February 2017.
Today, Cebu Pacific has 18 flights weekly between Manila and Masbate. The online campaign has allowed Masbateños to contribute to the economic growth of the province by helping open doors of opportunities for business and tourism.
Aside from Masbate, Cebu Pacific was the first to mount commercial flights to destinations that are now up-and-coming tourist areas such as Siargao, Camiguin, and Virac. (For comments, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on February 10, 2018.
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