Philippines sets aside $110 mn for airports refit

The Philippines said Thursday it has allotted 4.60 billion pesos ($110 million) to revamp its main international airport and three others as it looks to boost tourism.

About 1.64 billion pesos will go towards refurbishing the 31-year-old Terminal 1 at the country's main Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which one travel website ranked as the world's worst last year.

The government will "restore its structural integrity and kick-start maintenance activities, which have been deferred for several years", Budget and Management chief Florencio Abad said in a statement.

"Activities supported by this allocation include the immediate repair of the terminal's mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems, as well as retrofitting of the overall structure," he said.

Three other domestic airports in the central and southern parts of the country will also get a facelift, he said.

"The release (of the money) will support the improvement or creation of more gateways into the Philippines, given the administration's campaign to cement our position as a prime tourist and investment hub," he said.

President Benigno Aquino told AFP this year that tourism was a crucial sector in his economic agenda.

He said his government was aiming to attract 10 million tourists yearly by 2016, up from four million currently, with each visitor expected to generate one job domestically.

While the country offers some of region's most stunning beaches and tourist spots, visitors have often been turned off by its bad travel facilities.

In October last year, the interactive website "The Guide to Sleeping in Airports" rated Terminal 1 as the world's worst.

The ranking was based on a survey of complaints regarding safety concerns and lack of comfortable seating to rude staff and poor facilities.

After the report came out, embarrassed leaders ordered a general clean up and upgrade of the facility, including a renovation of 16 toilets that visitors had often complained of not having any running water.

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