Businessmen bullish on Bicol economy

LEGAZPI CITY, (PNA) — Businessmen and private sector leaders in Bicol feel confident their region is headed towards superior economic performance with the reelection of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda as chairman of the Regional Development Council (RDC).

Bicol’s regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has consistently outpaced the national annual average as shown by figures of the National Statistics Coordination Board. In 2012, Bicol GDP grew 7.1 % as against the country’s 6.8%.

The Bicol RDC recently reelected Salceda unanimously for a third term which, according to private sector leaders, provides continuity to large government projects he has spearheaded, including the Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA), that is expected to transform the region into a global trade and tourism destination.

Aside from the P4.3 billion SLIA, set to be operable by 2016, Salceda also pushes for a modern trans-Luzon Railways system that will link Bicol to the Ilocos, traversing Southern Tagalog, Metro Manila and and Central Luzon.

Such railways facility, he said, will provide convenient and comfortable passenger and cargo transport means, as well as promote beneficial inclusive growth for Filipinos in the regions.

Marcial ‘Lito‘ Tuanqui former president of the Bicol Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Salceda’s reelection further allows the “momentum of development in the region” which started to accelerate six years ago when Salceda first became RDC chair.

Tuanqui, who now sits as board director of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and private sector representative to the RDC, said Salceda was reelected because he needs to continue the development programs he had started.

“Salceda, noted economist, also happens to be the most qualified to head the Bicol RDC among its six governors, seven city mayors, and private sector representatives, that’s why we always support him,” Tuanqui noted. .

“Our worry is this: Who will take over the RDC with the same elan and dedication as Joey’s (Salceda), when his term ends three years from now? I talked with many of our RDC representatives and we all agreed that he should train somebody to take his place, because what he started must be sustained,” Tuanqui said.

Tuanqui added that among Salceda’s most “significant contributions to the Bicol Region is its bustling tourism industry, now acclaimed as the fastest growing overnight tourism destination in the country.

As RDC chair, Salceda initiated the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon (Almasor) tourism alliance last year, which bundles the tourism wealth of Bicol’s three southernmost provinces into an exciting unified tourism destination package.

The Philippine Tourism Operators Association conferred on Almasor the coveted People’s Choice Award during the recently concluded 24th Philippine Travel Mart held at the Mall of Asia’s SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Tours operators and travel agencies continuously conduct familiarization travels in Albay and the rest of the Bicol Region, following Salceda’s formation of Almasor.