CLARK FREEPORT – A flight route has been opened to famous tourist destinations in the far north, and it is being touted to end the long journey by foreign and local tourists eager to reach such destinations as the UNESCO world heritage site, the Banaue Rice Terraces.
Aviation company Wakay Air now connects Clark to Nueva Vizcaya via Bagabag airport.
“Gone are the days where tourists have to endure long hours travel to reach Banaue Rice Terraces with Wakay Air flying every four days at Clark International Airport,” said Wakay tours president Jerry Cabalse on the sidelines of the Clark-Bagabag inaugural flight.
Cabalse said the opening of the CRK-Balabag flight was initiated by the Department of Tourism (DoT), and travel and tour operators who noted the growing demand from foreign guests, specifically Europeans, for trips to the country’s world heritage site in Banaue.
“Our foreign market, specifically Europeans who have encountered sad experiences – especially traffic – when they travel by land in going to the North was the main reason we have come up with the Clark-Bagabag flight,” Cabalse added.
Wakay Tours is partnering with local government units, Cabalse said. “It took us almost a year processing all the requirements and now we are inaugurating this Clark-Bagabag route.”
Cabalse said Bagabag airport is servicing not only Nueva Vizcaya but also the people of Quirino and Ifugao.
“From Bagabag, it will only take us one hour to reach the Banaue Rice Terraces by land, and from Banaue it will be an easy travel, and accessible going to Sagada,” Cabalse said.
According to him, a 31-seater Swift Air serviced the 28 maiden flight passengers. “They will stay there for four day, three nights or depending on the tour packages the travellers have availed themselves of.”
“We have patterned tour packages to sustain the load factor of Wakay Air,” said Cabalse.
The maiden flight is a partnership with DOT and private sector such as the tour operators which guaranteed Wakay Air of paid seats, from different regions in the northern part of Luzon.
“Based on the statistics released by the local tourism office in Banaue, majority of the guests are Europeans. This is one of the markets that require a more convenient way to travel. So they want to visit the Philippines, the want to see the UNESCO world heritage site,” Cabalse pointed out.
Air connectivity, Cabalse explained, is a key expectation of foreign guests because they have come a long way just to see these sites in the north.
Round-trip tickets from Clark to Bagabag cost almost P10,000 or roughly 200 US dollars..
For his part, DOT3 director Ronnie Tiotuico said he expects an influx of tourists going to the northern Philippines and vice versa with the opening of Clark-Bagabag route.
DOT executives and regional directors, and CIAC President and CEO Alexander Cauguiran also graced the launch of the inaugural flight.