Lobregat on Open Skies policy: ‘We must have open mind first’ PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 25 August 2011 16:31

“Before we can have open skies policy, we must have open mind first.”
This was the sterling message of Mayor Celso Lobregat during the roadshow on Open Skies Policy and Executive Orders 28 and 29 sponsored last Friday by the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office 9 at a local hotel.

Mayor Lobregat was optimistic that Zamboanga City would stand to benefit from the open skies policy, which the Aquino administration is pushing. However, he said the people must have open mind and change their attitude towards bringing in tourists.

“Attitude change is necessary before we can bring in tourists and take advantage of the open skies policy,” Lobregat said even as he pointed out that the city government has been doing its best to promote the city’s tourist potentials.

“No matter what the city government does to attract tourists,” Lobregat lamented, “certain sectors of society always criticize and criticize that instead of attracting they are driving away tourists.”

He cited for instance Paseo del Mar, the city’s newest tourist attraction, where people from all walks of life would promenade at night. “Yet, some people are criticizing the city government of charging P5 for use of comfort rooms. Unless we change this attitude, we can never progress,” he said.

Lobregat said tourism promotion has always been one of his administration’s priorities that during his first term in office he had invited the late Max Soliven, a journalist based in Manila, to help the city promote Zamboanga.

He said the efforts may have succeeded, but was undermined by the negative reports heralded by the news media.
“They always capitalize on negative news. When somebody is shot and killed, it is headlined, but when we capture the killer, the story hardly gets into the front pages of the local papers. I’m not saying don’t publish negatives news, what I am appealing to the media is to give Zamboanga a good mileage by publishing positive news on front page and the negative news on the inside pages,” Lobregat said. “If people don’ change their attitude and if they don’t have open mind, then we can never progress.”

He said tourism has its effects on job creation and investments. “When we open our skies to as many airlines as possible, definitely airfares and freight cost will go down as a result of healthy competition.”

The policy allows foreign carriers to make stopovers abroad before finally touching down on any Philippine airport, except the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. For instance, carriers seeking to transport passengers from Hong Kong to Cebu are now allowed to make a stop in Macau first, thus allowing them to gather more travelers.

In his desire to pursue policies that promote tourism and spur investment in the countryside, President Aquino has issued Executive Order No. 28 recognizing the Philippine Air Negotiating Panel and the Philippine Air Consultation Panel. He also issued EO 29 that authorizes the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Philippine Air Panels to pursue more aggressively the International Civil Aviation Liberalization Policy.

These executive orders reaffirm the President’s commitment to pursue policies that promote tourism and spur investment in the country. — Vic Larato