Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, January 23, 2009

Korean tour operator to add chartered flights to Subic Freeport

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A Filipino-Korean tour operator is adding more chartered flights at the Subic Bay International Airport to boost the growing tourism industry here.

Hanafil Golf and Tour, Inc. said it was seeking to expand flights to Subic, which has become a favorite destination of Korean tourists, following the success of its recently launched junket flights.

"With the recent success of our maiden junket flight, we will be establishing more and more flights per week. The increase in the number of tourists here in Subic is certainly acknowledgeable. The largest group of tourists we have right now are Koreans," the tour operator said.

About 174 Korean golfers and tourists arrived here via Jeju Airline’s junket flight from Korea.

"We have accumulated at least P7.2 million for our initial junket flights. We believe we could hit the P18-million projected revenues within the coming months. We are definitely on the right track," Hanafil Golf said.

For this month alone, the company has sold out 3,000 tickets for full-board package tours to Korean golf enthusiasts.

"We are currently experiencing the peak season for Subic flights mainly due to the cold weather they are experiencing in Korea. Here, they could escape the harsh winter that Korea is experiencing right now," the company said.

In preparation for the influx of more tourists, Hanafil Golf, which took over the management and operations of the former Subic Bay Golf and Country Club last year, is putting up more investments to redevelop the golf course.

The company said the company recently acquired new John Deere machineries worth P5 million as part of its $48-million investments in developing the Subic golf course.

"With the acquisition of these state-of-the-art machineries, we are ensuring golf aficionados that everything inside this golf course is well taken care of," the tour operator said.

The equipment will be used for precision mowing, which can cut grass along a path 105 inches wide at one time, and trim as low as 5/8 inch.

"We have rehabilitated some of the areas in the golf course, created a new restaurant, new structures, and purchased more golf carts," it added.

The company has scheduled junket flights twice a week from Jeju Airlines that will carry 180 international golfers to and from the Subic Bay Freeport.

The company is planning to add more flights to Subic Freeport and is currently negotiating with different airlines to bring more tourists to the freeport.

Hanafil is a subsidiary of Hanatour and is listed on the stock exchanges of London and Korea.

Hanafil earlier said it wanted to fast-track the redevelopment of the former Subic Bay Golf and Country Club with its committed investment of $48 million.

It added that ongoing development of the Subic golf course would not be affected by congressional criticisms in the contract award.

Hanafil has started building a new nursery that will replace the greens and fairways of the present golf course to support the expansion of additional holes.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) earlier said the award of the development contract to Hanafil was aboveboard.

It said the contract assures the government P14 million in yearly income, compared with the P3.6 million promised by the former operator.

The P14-million rental will be paid on top of a 5% revenue sharing scheme, as well as a $48-million development commitment, the agency said earlier.

The SBMA awarded the lease and development contract to Hanafil over seven other bidders because the firm had offered terms that are most advantageous to the government, it said.

Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong has alleged that the contract with Hanafil was disadvantageous to the government, which the SBMA disputes. — Reynaldo Garcia - Business World

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