Despite potential traffic jams, MMDA ready to back DOT's nationwide mall sale
MANILA, Philippines — Traffic authorities in the capital were not consulted on the Tourism department’s plan for a nationwide shopping sale in malls next month, a move that analysts say could potentially worsen traffic jams.
“We were not yet consulted, but we will support it so long as they give us guidelines and the schedule (of the sale),” Jojo Garcia, general manager of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), told Philstar.com in a text message.
Mall operators have expressed support for the Department of Tourism's plan for a nationwide shopping sale, part of the contingencies meant to drive local tourism and offset an expected dip in foreign tourists due to existing travel bans on China, Hong Kong and Macau.
China alone is the Philippines’ second biggest tourist market last year, accounting for about 21% of total visitors. The temporary travel prohibitions were put up to stop the spread of Coronavirus Disease-19.
At least 67 malls in Metro Manila
With the expected influx of shoppers, and their cars, Garcia said guidelines from the DOT would help MMDA craft a traffic management plan for Metro Manila, where shopping centers are heavily concentrated.
Company data on their respective websites showed that of the 74 SM Supermalls, the country’s largest mall operator, 23 are located in Metro Manila. Meanwhile, six of 44 Robinsons Malls are in the Metro, while a number of Ayala Malls are also in the area.
MMDA had previously cited the proliferation of malls in main highways like EDSA as reason for Metro Manila’s infamous traffic congestion.
The agency even asks mall operators to suspend weekend sales and promos during the holiday season in December when the travel time, according to traffic navigation app Waze, typically takes longer.
Traffic is so bad in the capital that the city was voted as the world’s worst city for drivers by Waze.
“We don’t have plans yet because we don’t see any problems if ever this program will proceed. And it’s the project of the DOT and we will support it,” Garcia said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Sales mean more cars
Sought for comment, Jedd Ugay, a transport economist, said that generally, trips to malls increase during sales and since people typically bring their own cars when travelling, the number of vehicles on the road consequently rise.
This matters for Metro Manila, a sprawl of 16 cities and a municipality connected by aging infrastructure, where 23.4% of trips are made by private vehicles dominate roads, according to data from Japan International Cooperation Agency, a bilateral lender.
“Mall sales generate/attract trips, but this in itself does not necessarily result (in) increased vehicular traffic…It is just that we are designed to utilize cars more than other countries and therefore any trip-generating activity will result in increased vehicular traffic,” Ugay said in a text message.