The Department of Tourism (DOT) sees brighter prospects for the Travel industry with the opening of Clark’s International Airport’s new passenger terminal.

Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said “the launch of the beautiful new passenger terminal at Clark International Airport will certainly encourage more foreign carriers to fly to the Philippines and bring in business travelers and tourists.”

She added, the new passenger terminal, which expands the airport’s capacity to at least eight million passengers annually, would make leisure destinations in the north more accessible to tourists.

“Instead of flying into Manila, tourists can land directly in Clark, check into the DOT-accredited hotels there, and enjoy Pampanga’s food and sights. They can also go on road trips to Baguio, Baler, La Union, Ilocos, etc.”

Two of South Korea’s largest low-cost carriers — Jeju Air and Jin Air — are among the new carriers that will offer direct flights to Clark from Incheon, Puyat said. Jeju Air’s flights will be on Thursdays and Sundays, while Jin Air will fly every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday starting May 16.

The DOT chief noted that South Koreans were already ranked third among the top tourist markets in the country as of April 26, making it “highly possible” for the country to reach 1-1.3 million leisure tourists by yearend.

Other foreign carriers that will fly into Clark will be Jetstar and Scoot from Singapore, Qatar Airways from Doha, Emirates Airlines from Dubai, Air Asia, as well local carriers Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.

Pre-pandemic, in 2019, there were 436,235 foreign leisure travelers who arrived in the country via Clark, which then served 686 weekly flights by 18 airlines.

Romulo Puyat said Pampanga alone, where the airport is located, offers a variety of Tourism activities, from culinary explorations, culture and heritage visits, to adventure trips. It also invites business travelers to gather for meetings, incentive tours, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE). In fact, SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. will be opening its new convention center in Clark before the end of May.

“Clark was one of the destinations visited by some delegates to the recent World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit. More than just a freeport zone, this place is an emerging Tourism hub that has great potential to earn huge gains for the Tourism industry,” she stressed.

Other accessible Tourism sites from Clark airport include the Minalungao National Park and Mount 387 in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija; Biak-na-Bato National Park in Bulacan; Sitio Pidpid and Sapang Uwak in Porac, Pampanga; the Eco Park, Glamping Sites and Farm Villages in San Jose, Tarlac; and Pante Capas Falls in Capas, Tarlac.

The interior of the 110,000-square-meters new terminal pays homage to Mount Pinatubo and its crater lake, Mount Arayat, and the Sacobia riverbed — three of Pampanga’s well-loved travel destinations. It was designed by Budji Layug and Royal Pineda, and constructed by Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

The PHP15-billion structure is a project by the Department of Transportation and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority. BCDA signed a 25-year agreement with the Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corp. (Lipad) to operate and maintain the new terminal, making it the first hybrid public-private partnership under the current administration.

Lipad is a consortium between Changi Airports Philippines, Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings Inc., and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions.