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More tourists are expected to visit the Mindanao region with the launch of two new flights from Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) in Misamis Oriental.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) made this remark during the inauguration of two new Cebu Pacific flights — the Cagayan de Oro-Tagbilaran and Cagayan de Oro-Bacolod at the Laguindingan Airport.

Tourism Undersecretary for Media Affairs Kat de Castro described these flights as a welcome development noting that this would improve air connectivity and boost domestic tourism.

“The two newly-opened air routes will enhance the cluster or regional tourism concept, in this case visitors, who went wild water rafting in Cagayan de Oro, can quickly fly to see the Chocolate Hills and tarsiers in Bohol,” De Castro said.

She noted that this is important especially for the Philippines which does not enjoy cross-border travel like neighboring countries and heavily relies on air connectivity between gateways.

Cebu Pacific will fly four times weekly between Cagayan de Oro (Laguindingan) and Tagbilaran and three times weekly to and from Bacolod, in addition to flights to and from Iloilo, Cebu and Davao cities.

Before the launch of these new flights, transporting between the Visayas and Mindanao meant traveling so many hours by land, getting on roll-on/roll-offs, or boarding an overnight trip by ship.

DOT Region 10 Director May Salvana-Unchuan, for her part, said the resulting influx of domestic and international tourists will economically benefit the marginal sectors of the tourism industry including indigenous tribes.

Unchuan assured guests of a memorable and safe visit aside from the unbelievable hospitality of the people of the region that include Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte and the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Tangub, Ozamiz, Oroquieta, El Salvador, Gingoog, Malaybalay, and Valencia.

She said the government is working closely with travel and tour operators to offer more competitive and attractive packages to visit the region.

Xander Lao, president of CEBGO, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cebu Pacific, said that this was only the start of the airline company’s expansion as tourism and aviation continue to grow.

Lao said that the airline company is also eyeing the opening of new air routes to Siquijor and Masbate “due to insistent demand.” (PNA) JBP/ANP