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C. Philippines ‘super region’ to host half of tourism zones

Vol. XXII, No. 199 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Wednesday, May 12, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

MACTAN, CEBU — The Central Philippines Region, also called the Tourism Super Region, is expected to host more than half of the tourism enterprise zones that will be formed under the National Tourism Policy Act of 2009 that was signed into law here yesterday.

President Gloria M. Arroyo, who signed Republic Act No. 9593 yesterday, cited the latest arrival figures that showed 55% of the country’s foreign tourists visited the Central Philippines in the first quarter.

"So, 55% of tourism enterprise zones will also be in Central Philippines, in the Visayas and here in Cebu," she said in her speech to participants at the closing yesterday of the One Visayas Summit on Climate Change.

The two-day summit, held at the Cebu International Convention Center here, was attended by local government, academe and nongovernment leaders.

Under the administration’s super regions development concept, Central Philippines is composed of Western, Central and Eastern Visayas; Bicol; Palawan and Romblon; Camiguin in Northern Mindanao; as well as Siargao Island in Caraga.

But tourism enterprise zones are expected to be established in various areas even beyond Central Philippines, generating job and investment opportunities.

Hence, areas deemed ready to host tourism zones include Cebu, Davao, Bohol, Laguna, Cavite, Boracay, Palawan and Iloilo.

The best

Cebu, which has thrice been ranked as the seventh best island destination in the world by Conde Nast travel magazine, has emerged as the top destination in the country.

In the first quarter of this year, the Tourism department reported that Cebu attracted the biggest number of domestic and foreign tourists among the key destinations in the country.

A total of 422,239 tourists visited Cebu for the period.

Boracay, the world-famous resort island also in the Visayas, was second with 158,030 arrivals, followed by Davao, Camarines Sur, Zambales and Bohol.

Cebu was also the most frequently visited destination by foreigners with 184,790 arrivals, followed by Boracay (63,903), Zambales (25,252), Camarines Sur (24,976) and Bohol (24,350).

Foreign visitors grew 10.33% to 1.3 million nationwide in the first quarter.

Second homes

Cebu’s first tourism enterprise zone is the P3.18-billion Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa on Mactan Island.

Such declaration is expected to boost sales of the resort’s condominium units because foreign buyers will be spared from paying the 12% value-added tax.

The resort has been accredited with the Tourism department’s "Live Your Dreams" campaign, which encourages foreign investors to purchase second homes in the Philippines.

Korean-led Philippine BXT Corp., developer of a waterpark resort, will also avail of fiscal incentives.

The resort, accredited as a de luxe hotel, has a total of 557 rooms spread in six medium-rise buildings and 24 pool villas spread over an eight-hectare property in Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan island.

To complement the resort, Phil BXT will also develop a P1-billion 18-hole championship golf course and retirement village on a 36-hectare property in Cordova, also in Mactan and about 15 minutes away from the resort. — Regina T. Aguilar


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