San Vicente, Palawan- Charter airline company Air Juan launched its maiden flight here Monday, connecting this emerging tourist town to Puerto Princesa City and other established tourism hubs, and utilizing the municipality’s newly constructed airport.
The event was a red-letter day for local and provincial officials, who feted the small group of passengers that took the 9-seater morning flight from Puerto Princesa City, a flight time of less than 30 minutes.
The route connects Puerto Princesa City, San Vicente, Coron–Busuanga and Caticlan (Boracay).
Municipal officials are also anticipating the major commercial airlines to start offering regular flights from Manila starting next year when the airport becomes fully operational.
“We have had discussions with Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific and we are hoping that by next year, they can start operating,” James Paul Inawasan, municipal administrator, told Palawan News.
The San Vicente Regional Airport, still in the final phase of completion, is 1.6 kilometers long and can already accommodate “non-tower” operations, or flights that do not need tower assistance. Currently under implementation is completion of its navigational facilities, parking area, runway expansion, an underground power line and drainage system.
Local authorities are pinning their hopes on the completion of the airport to trigger private sector investments in tourism, particularly in its Long Beach properties, a 14-kilometer stretch of fine white sand currently underdeveloped but already secured by major tourism investors.
“We have close to 500 rooms right now in terms of total tourist accommodations and we get an increasing number of foreign guests,” said Lucy Panagsagan, municipal tourism officer.
Local investors are first to anticipate the growing tourism potential of the town, which saw arrivals jumped from around 21,000 in 2015 to over 60,000 in June this year even as the town’s promotional efforts were not yet on an aggressive mode.
“It’s exciting to be part of San Vicente’s tourism growth,” businesswoman Annabelle Dimaapi, owner of a new constructed resort accommodation, told Palawan News. Dimaapi was one of the first passengers of Air Juan in its maiden flight.uc