By Danny O. Calleja
LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) — The Gaisano Grand Group of Companies of the Cebu-based Gaisano family is putting up an additional investment worth around Php2 billion in the establishment of a huge condo hotel and several commercial facilities in this fast-growing Bicol city.
“We have thoroughly studied this project and the result suggests that Legazpi is very much ready for this huge investment,” Eric Tan, Gaisano’s Taft Properties business development manager, told the Philippines News Agency in an interview here over the weekend.
In the study, he said, the city’s tourist arrivals record was considered as well as the city government’s development thrust that encourages and supports private investments. In tourist arrivals, Tan said, the city has an impressive growth figure that by 2016 alone could already realize around one million.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office based in the city says that by the end of this year, tourist arrivals here would be around 900,000. DOT records listed around 450,000 arrivals as of the first half of this year and when the trend established by massive local tourism promotions and industry development that the city government and the agency have been initiating is maintained up to year-end, the .9-million mark would certainly be hit. These continuing initiatives have been gaining impressive results that showed off highly noticeable arrival figures starting in 2013 when the city hit the half-million target by way of surpassing by a whopping 32.27 percent its previous year’s number of arrivals. Total arrivals of both domestic and foreign tourists in the city for the whole year of 2013 reached 579,470, which was higher by 141,370 over the 2012’s 438,100 figure, according to the same records.
Last year, the figure rose to around 700,000 or 40 percent over 2013’s and led the city government to improve it to 900,000 this year and to one million next year. DOT Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla said the 2015 goal is almost achieved and the 2016 goal is very much workable as city mayor Noel Rosal relentlessly pursues a tourism master plan featuring a massive promotion campaign that highlights the city’s irresistible tourism products ranging from its natural wonders to world-class facilities.
According to Tan, the city possesses all the attributes of a top tourism destination and convention capital—from marvelous tourism sites and world-class facilities to stable peace and order situation, clean air quality, pollution-free coastal water and livable communities. On the city government’s development thrust, he said, his company is aware that Legazpi has been recently recognized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as the most business-friendly city in Bicol for its prompt compliance with the government’s simplified Business Permit and Licensing System (BPLS). Not a few are also aware that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has named Legazpi as Bicol’s “most business-friendly local government unit” citing city’s effectiveness and efficiency in paving the way for the place to become haven of investments.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has recognized the city as the most business-friendly for the whole of South Luzon while the Asian Institute of Management has named Legazpi as one of the most competitive cities in the Philippines, he said. The new project, Tan said, is focused on a three-building condotel of 10 stories each within the Gaisano-owned and operated Landco Business Park, a master planned central business district in the heart of the city that the company has developed since 14 years ago and where its Pacific Mall Legazpi, the first full-sized integrated shopping center in Bicol now stands.
Practically, this new establishment will operate as a hotel having condominium units which would allow someone to own as a full-service vacation home. When these individual owners are not using this home, they can leverage the marketing and management done by the hotel chain to rent and manage the condo unit as it would any other hotel room, Tan explained. “In short, this condotel is an investment opportunity for anyone who wants to own a unit and offer it for rent as a hotel room,” he said. It will be a 600- to 900-room condotel built based on the green economic development that the city adopts in promoting environment-friendly investments, which includes green building regulations paired with preference purchasing clauses or marketing programs such as green certification programs for local businesses, Tan said.
These regulations play an important role by raising awareness of the environment and, thus, indirectly helping to build the market for green goods and services and create as well economic development by helping develop new expertise, for instance, in green building operations or energy use evaluations, Rosal explained. Tan said the condotel will also be provided with a covered parking area capable of holding up to at least 200 cars in compliance with the city regulation that requires big commercial establishments to come up with such facility in an effort to decongest the burgeoning city traffic.
Apart from the condotel, Tan said, an expansion of the Pacific Mall is also included in the project in order to enhance the city’s lifestyle hub. This expansion will include the putting up of a separate parking facility for mall customers with a 500-car capacity, he said. Rosal said he is impressed by this new Gaisano project that would be another addition to the arrivals of big investments in the city in response to the massive marketing and promotion the local government has been initiating. “We now have four business giants competing with each other in putting up investments in the locality called in the travel industry world the City of Fun and Adventure and recognized as the second most livable city in the Philippines,” Rosal said. The four business giants the mayor is referring to are the Gaisano, Ayala Corp., Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings and Robinsons Group of the Gokongwei family.(PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN