TACLOBAN CITY– The delay in the construction of the new passenger terminal building of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport has impacted negatively the tourism industry of the region.
Thus said Buenaventura Go-Soco, a member of the Regional Development Council (RDC) representing the media, who said that originally the facility’s construction should have been completed in March 2022.
However, as of their August 2023 monitoring, the project has already been delayed by more than 15 months, Go-Soco, a former regional director of the National Economic Development Authority(NEDA), said.
He claimed that the region has lost a potential tourist receipt amounting to P5 billion. Go-Soco, however, did not say how he was able to come up with such a figure.
The current passenger terminal building of the DZR Airport has a capacity of 600 passengers while the new facility will almost triple it to 1,700 with its new design set within the standard of an international airport.
During the committee meeting of the RDC regional project monitoring team, they were informed that the project is at 57.18 percent completion with a negative slippage of 20.20 percent. They also noted the insufficient number of manpower on the site.
The total cost for Phase 1 of the DZR Airport improvement project is P759 million, and additional P1.26 billion for Phase 2 and P585 million for Phase 3.
Go-Soco said that the RDC had already passed a resolution addressed to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the contractor to fast-track the construction of the new terminal building.
The contractor of the new passenger terminal building is the Ormoc-based construction firm MAC Builders which has a joint venture with ML-Builder.
If the present contractor cannot fulfill its duty to fast-track the construction of the passenger building, their contract should be terminated and the government must look for another contractor that is more capable and can finish the project on time, Go-Soco said.
Commenting on the issue, Pocholo Franco, a member of the RDC representing the tourism sector, said that having an airport with an international standard is one of their wish lists as it will help boost the region’s tourism arrivals.
Based on the data of CAAP-8, DZR Airport is the country’s 7th busiest airport with more than 1.48 million passengers in 2022.
“Every day of delay is wasted opportunities and lost revenues for our region. Business opportunities and employment are likewise gone,” Franco said.
“Our hope and our dream for a vibrant tourism, more visitors, more employment, and inclusive growth rest on the completion of our own international airport,” he added.
Currently, there are 16 to 20 daily flights at the DZR Airport servicing the Tacloban-Manila-Tacloban and Tacloban-Cebu-Tacloban routes.
Moreover, Department of Tourism (DOT) 8 Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said that with the DZR Airport, being the main gateway of Eastern Visayas, the new passenger terminal building once completed will give the region a competitive advantage.
Servicing up to a million inbound and outbound passengers per year, the present terminal building needs to be expanded to conveniently accommodate not just the traveling public and tourists but also provide spaces for facilities, amenities, and concessionaires who cater to the needs of passengers, Tiopes added.
Having an airport terminal that is of international standards also leads to opportunities to accommodate bigger aircraft and open up new routes thus benefitting our tourism industry as it helps expand our accessibility to more tourist markets, the DOT regional director further said.
Last year, tourist arrivals in the region reached three million.
(ROEL T. AMAZONA)