Netizens pick Mati as next tourist destination

February 11, 2018 - 11:03 AM
The skeleton of the 20-ton sperm whale that drifted to Davao Oriental's shoreline in 2010 is the centerpiece of a museum opened in 2014 by the provincial government. The 53-foot sperm whale is the largest found in the Philippines and the seventh largest on display worldwide. PHOTO FROM WEBSITE OF DAVAO ORIENTAL GOVT.

DAVAO CITY – More than two million netizens, who responded to a crowdsourcing campaign initiated by the country’s leading airline, chose the capital City of Mati in Davao Oriental as one of the top preferred destinations they want Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) to fly next.

Through this campaign, netizens, for the first time in the Philippines, were asked which destinations in the country they would want the airline to serve.

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 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, dubbed as #CEBFlyMeTo, 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, more than two million netizens watched, shared, reacted, and commented with their votes.

The budget airline appeared to have utilized crowd-sourcing 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,” said 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 is no reason for this not to 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 jibes with a push by the provincial government of Davao Oriental for the establishment of an operating airport in Mati City to attract more tourists and investors in the area.

Late last year, Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang announced he had already discussed the plan with the President, 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.

Recently, a team from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines 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 Mati airport and its utilization for CEB’s commercial flights, tourists and travelers are given access to visit the area. Mati boasts of beautiful islands and beaches and is 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 in 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.