MCIA Asia’s best in airport and destination marketing

MACTAN-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) was awarded as Asia’s Best Airport in Airport and Destination Marketing in the “Under 5 Million Passengers” category of the Routes Asia Awards.

Representatives from MCIA Authority and GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) received the honors during the ceremony held in Chiang Mai, Thailand Wednesday night, Feb. 15, 2023.

In a press release, Routes Asia lauded GMCAC’s two-pronged approach to route development, namely, “airline marketing to create supply and destination marketing to ensure the sustainability of its airline partners’ presence and address the demand for air services.”

DOT wins too

The Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) also won in the Destination category for its “nonstop” endeavors to partner with airports and airlines through local and global marketing efforts, regional travel exchanges, joint campaigns, and familiarization tours for agents and media.

The DOT was shortlisted together with the tourism agencies of Japan, Indonesia and Singapore in the Destination category.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Changi Airport was crowned the Overall Winner of this year’s awards ceremony. It moved 32.2 million passengers in 2022 compared to its 3.1 million passenger movements in 2021 and has recovered 47 percent of its passenger traffic compared with 2019.

Returning for the first time this year since 2019, Routes Asia Awards acknowledged the incredible work done by airlines, airports and destinations across Asia Pacific in 2022, as well as their ongoing strategy for 2023.

Supportive policies

MCIA Authority General Manager Julius Neri Jr. attributed the award to the collaborative efforts of all the stakeholders in the airport.

While it is the MCIAA and GMCAC that market the airport, Neri said such award would not be possible without the guidance of several groups.

These include the Cebu Provincial Government led by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia who, Neri said, has been very strong in pushing to open Cebu and to really promote tourism.

“It also helped that Governor Gwen was very supportive and her policies were really geared towards opening up the tourism market to balance the economy and health,” Neri told SunStar Cebu Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023.

The same goes for the DOT led by Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for their ways in making the airport better.

“It’s really a combination of everything,” he said.

Start from zero

Neri noted that they started the year 2022 with almost zero passenger following the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Rai) in December 2021.

Despite that, they were able to reach about five million passengers at the end of the year as MCIA noted a huge growth in the number of passengers that started to pass through the airport in the second half of 2022.

He said they have been doing marketing in different airlines that can possibly come to the Philippines.

“We market Cebu and we market the airport not only as a destination but as a transit point since we are strategically located,” he said.

Neri stressed that MCIA is within an hour’s travel from approximately 90 percent of the tourist destinations in the country.

“We also market all of the tourist destinations in the Province of Cebu,” he added.

This is not the first time that MCIA won in the Routes Asia Awards as the general manager said they won in a higher category sometime in 2017 or 2018.

In 2017, the MCIA was “highly commended” for its excellence in airport marketing, with between four million to 20 million annual passengers at the Routes Asia 2017 held in Okinawa, Japan.

Marketing excellence

The Routes Marketing Awards was created in 1997 to recognize excellence in airport marketing as voted by various airlines. They provide the airline community with the chance to have their say as to which airport they think provides the best overall marketing services to them.

For 2024, Neri foresees they will be able to compete in the 10 million passenger category amid the easing of restrictions in relation to the coronavirus disease pandemic.

In pre-pandemic 2019, MCIA handled 12.66 million passengers. (MKG / STC Intern Jenika Gi-An C. Nero)