How can it be fun?

The Philippines finally launched its marketing campaign to attract more tourists to visit the country. I applauded the efforts done when it was launched. But as days, months, and years pass by, I begin to dislike it because of two things: the state of our country's airport and consumers not being no. 1.

The Philippines finally launched its marketing campaign to attract more tourists to visit the country. I applauded the efforts done when it was launched. But as days, months, and years pass by, I begin to dislike it because of two things: the state of our country's airport and consumers not being no. 1.

We now have three airports in Metro Manila- NAIA Terminals 1, 2, and 3: NAIA 1 – for international carriers – is old, shabby, and should really be closed; NAIA 2 is the hub exclusively for the Philippine Airlines; NAIA 3, partially open, is the hub for Cebu Pacific. The fact that all three are named "Ninoy Aquino", after the President's father, should get this President's attention on the way things are being done in these areas.

Let us take the case of Cebu Pacific. Yes, it has cheaper rates (its market positioning). But should customers suffer going up and down the stairs, crossing tarmacs instead of using the tubes? NAIA 2 is not operated with the customers in mind, most especially senior citizens. I saw them stopping from post to post as they walked to the gates so they can get some rest. Those who asked for wheelchairs have to also go down for boarding and use the ramps. And while there are tubes, no explanation was provided on why customers can't use them. I experienced this when I went to Dumaguete. We entered a stairwell for boarding, went inside the tube to go downstairs, walked across the tarmac, and went up the stairs to enter the plane. Returning, we had to go down the tarmac, ride a bus for a short distance, and enter the airport again. Using NAIA 2 is a lot of walking without much assistance like horizontal escalators, etc. So my question is: Are tubes in NAIA 2 not working? Or if they are working and people use them, will that entail additional cost, hence a pass-on cost to users?

On the one hand, NAIA 1 is going to the pits. But it has been in such pitiful state that the sooner government realizes this, the better for all. In my recent travel to Singapore, I decided to use the Gate 6 waiting area where we were supposed to board. Since it was still closed, I sat at Gate 4 and at 1:15 pm, lo and behold, a cleaning man started cleaning the carpet using an overused, dirty tingting walis in full glare of everybody waiting for their flights, and those coming in. The worst part was that he was also using the same tingting walis for the seats. Now, talk about hygiene! Where is the budget for this? If this service is outsourced, the provider is giving the country a raw deal. To clean our airports using such a device in midday, and in full view of both local and foreign passengers is really troubling for me. It ain't fun no more!

On the other hand, NAIA 2 looks like it is better managed than the other two. It appears to be clean: the toilets are working, with tissue and water to boot! Escalators are also working, unlike in NAIA 3. Riders exit and enter via tubes to make traveling a lot easy and customer friendly. The concessionaires look like real ones, instead of small tables proliferating in NAIA 3.

When the tourism battle cry is "It's Fun in the Philippines", these irritants take away the fun from the experience. What is sad is one begins and ends air travel using our airports, and the fun that one may have had will just be a bubble burst because of our airports' inefficiencies. Impressions and perceptions are actually carried over even if we say we are the fastest growing economy in ASEAN. At 7.1% growth in the 3rd quarter, service should be on top in a consumer-centric economy!

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheLOBBYiST.
About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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