Changes are coming

In the provincial election, Cebu Governor Hilario P. Davide III retained his post after his closest opponent, former Government Service Insurance System president Winston F. Garcia, immediately conceded defeat a day after the election.

Metro Cebu comprises seven cities (Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Talisay, Naga, Danao) and six municipalities (Cordova, Carcar, Compostela, Consolacion, Minglanilla, San Fernando). It is nearly twice the size of Metro Manila in land area, but only has 2.5 million residents compared to the National Capital Region’s 13 million nighttime population.

The Philippines’ first-ever bus rapid transport (BRT) system will soon rise in Metro Cebu. A public-private partnership (PPP) project of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), the BRT is funded by the World Bank. Its first phase will have 176 buses running through dedicated bus ways from Ayala Center Cebu to the South Road Properties, where SM’s Seaside City is located.

Over in Lapu-Lapu City, GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) is targeting to develop the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) into the next travel and lifestyle destination. GMCAC President Louie Ferrer said: “The F&B (food and beverage) and retail segments play a significant role in the airport’s brand image, which is firmly tied to Cebu’s global reputation as a resort destination.”

GMCAC is a consortium formed by Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed Megawide Construction Corp. (PSE: MWIDE) and Bangalore-based GMR Group. Its 25-year concession involves the renovation of MCIA’s Terminal 1 and the construction of a second terminal to accommodate the increasing passenger traffic. Last March, MCIA bagged the “Asia Pacific 2015 PPP Deal of the Year” award during the IJGlobal Awards held in Singapore.

Mr. Ferrer said they are looking at tapping a third party to develop the six-hectare property across Terminal 2. To complete the travel and lifestyle offering, the mixed-use development will include a mall complex, casino, and hotels that should be available by the first half of 2018, in time for Terminal 2’s opening. Prior to this, an “airport village” will open at the Terminal 1 arrivals road offering an array of food and beverage choices.

At the existing domestic terminal, GMCAC has upgraded passenger facilities and inaugurated new retail stores. Several fast-food chains recently opened their outlets in both the departure and arrival areas, adding more dining options for travelers.

Four new international destinations out of MCIA were launched in the first quarter. These are EVA Air’s Cebu-Taipei, Xiamen Air’s Cebu-Xiamen, Philippine Airlines’ Cebu-Los Angeles, and Emirates Airlines’ Cebu-Dubai flights.

GMCAC General Manager Andrew Harrison said Filipinos living in the Visayas and Mindanao who go to the US, Middle East, Europe, and Greater China will benefit from these new routes. “Now they can fly directly from Cebu and save the hard-earned money they would usually spend on board, lodging, and transportation if they depart from Manila,” he pointed out.

Mr. Harrison noted that around 35-40% of overseas Filipino workers live in central and southern Philippines. Most of them have to make their way to Manila to catch flights going to their countries of work, incurring additional expenses and wasting valuable time.

Development contract for five other regional airports in the Vis-Min area will be auctioned off via the PPP mode this year. DoTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said: “What we did to Mactan-Cebu, we want to do for those airports.”

MCIA is envisioned to become the world’s friendliest airport gateway, demonstrating the hospitality and warmth of the Cebuanos. Guests will feel that their resort experience has started the moment they set foot inside the two terminals. Its architectural features will blend modern building materials with Cebuano culture and heritage.

More changes are coming as GMCAC invests some P32-billion for the first phase of Terminal 2 alone. The MCIA project has emerged as a model for all future airport PPPs, and is set to redefine the travel landscape in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as destinations beyond ASEAN.

J. Albert Gamboa is chief financial officer of Asian Center for Legal Excellence and Senior Advisor of KSearch Asia Consulting, Inc.


Source: Bworld Online