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RDC Seeks Open Sky Policy for Bikol Int'l Airport

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 2  - The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Bikol will ask the national government through concerned government agencies to consider an Open Sky policy for the international airport located in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay.

RDC Bicol chairman and Albay Governor Joey Salceda said in the next full council meeting on November 24, they will officially endorse to President Benigno Aquino III and national air transport authorities the application for selective open skies for the Southern Luzon International Airport upon its completion in 2012 or 2013.

Salceda cited the experience of Clark where international traffic virtually flew from 7,880 to 600,000 after an open skies policy was implemented in 2004.

According to him, an "open skies" should equalize the opportunities for regional destinations vis-a-vis the more developed incumbents like Manila, Cebu and Davao.

"An open skies in Daraga should further accelerate the tourism growth of Bikol which Secretary Alberto Lim acknowledged as one of the fastest growing destinations for foreign tourists with Legazpi serving as the gateway to a well-diversified portfolio that includes Misibis, Caramoan, Mayon, Camarines Sur Water sports Complex (CWC) and Donsol," Salceda pointed out.

The RDC chief added that the synchronized pursuit of regional industrial policy laser-focused on tourism by the provincial governments of Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon utilizing their organic budgets should be complemented by the national government investment in Bikol International Airport and further afforded a more conducive policy framework in the form of the "open skies policy."

On the other hand, DOT has recommended to the Department of Transportation and Communications the speedy completion of the airport.

DOT Bicol regional director Maria Ong Ravanilla said that Sec. Alberto Lim during his recent visit here in Legazpi announced that tourist arrivals in Bicol region will be doubled soon the international airport is completed. "Accessibility is a major facility in tourism industry," she noted. (PNA)