Tuesday, November 15, 2011

World's Worst Airport Gets a Facelift...Only a Facelift?

The Philippines announced Tuesday (November 15) that Manila's International Airport will be getting a face-lift after it was ranked the world's worst airport, but conceded that the renovations could not work miracles.

Transport Secretary Manuel Roxas said the 1.1 billion-peso (US$25 million) revamping of Manila airport's Terminal 1, which caters mostly to international flights, would begin in January next year [2012] and was expected to take 18 months.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 was voted the world’s worst airport for 2011 by readers of http://www.sleepinginairports.net/worst-airports, a site that reviews the quality and facilities of the world’s airports. Its primary audience seems to be budget travelers who see sleeping in airports as one way to save money during their journeys.

Among the array of problems cited by international passengers who managed to survive a "stay" at Manila's airport were theft, bribery, and the absence of toilet seats and running water in the bathrooms.

One reader had this experience: "A big bucket with a dipper was by the front door (of the restroom) and about four attendants hassled me for a tip. When I asked a security guard where the smoking area was he told me to follow him... and he took me outside where he then insisted on a bribe before he let me back into the terminal."

NAIA-1’s ratings worsened from the site’s 2010 assessment that it was the world’s 5th worst airport and the worst only in Asia.

COMMENT: Although http://www.sleepinginairports.net is one-third serious, one-third tongue-in-cheek and one-third humorous, on a serious note the site's popularity among "sleepers" has been effective in that the Philippines government's decision to "upgrade" the airport is a direct result of the site. Citing reviews from its readers, the website said the airport was given the dubious title following complaints of thieving staff, dirty toilets and a collapsing ceiling.

In support of the site's rating, I dare say, having gone through Ninoy Aquino many times, it needs much, much more than a "face-lift," if it is too attract tourists, and keep them coming back. Sadly, Manila's high level of crime and Hong Kong's urging that its citizens not visit the Philippines (due to a botched hostage rescue operation that resulted in the deaths of seven Chinese tourists) are just other reasons why the Philippines is having a hard time attracting tourism.

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