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Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (MPD-SBMA)

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10 December 2008

SBMA boosts tourism development in Subic Freeport

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is preparing for further infrastructure development in Subic Bay Freeport’s 182.40-hectare central business district (CBD) to help boost tourism there and in surrounding areas.

"We’re trying to transform CBD into a high-end area," SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said at Kapihan sa Sulo forum Saturday.

He said SBMA is discussing with possible partners its plan to expand tourist accommodation there within the next three years. ”We plan to increase from about 2,000 units now to 4,000 or even 5,000 units the total number of hotel rooms there,” he said.

There are also discussions on other possible tourism-development projects in the CBD. The ongoing international financial turmoil is not deterring SBMA from pursuing its tourism development plans as Arreza pointed out China, Korea and Japan –- not crisis-ravaged United States –- are the country’s major tourist sources.

He noted SBMA is keen on tapping China’s outbound tourist market which authorities estimated to reach 100 million people by 2015. ”Between 80 and 90 percent of tourists in Hong Kong are from the Chinese mainland so it’s only a matter of time before they begin looking for other destinations,” he said.

SBMA is particularly interested in attracting China’s ‘nouveau riche’ and gambling aficionados who frequent Macao. ”They want to see new things and to indulge,” Arreza noted.

SBMA came up with such plans as Arreza noted the freeport is near Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) which the government projects to increasingly handle more tourist arrivals.

The freeport has several tourist sites which can draw in visitors: the 27.39-hectare Subic Gateway for shopping, exhibition and public performances; 9.38-hectare George Dewey Complex for residential and commercial use; 1.32-hectare Hidden Beach where most of Subic Bay’s marine life can be found, and 2,142.90-hectare Ilanin Forest which serves as natural habitat for several wild animals.Subic Bay Freeport's CBD itself is zoned into five areas, three of which are for tourism-related uses: 16.37-hectare Moonbay Marina for residential- commercial development, 1.18-hectare Greenwood’s Park where 3,400 square meters can be leased and 2.96-hectare Times Square Complex for commercial establishments.

”If plans push through, Subic can be a major international tourist destination in three to four years,” Arreza said.

Republic Act No. 7227 created the SBMA, the corporate body serving as government’s arm in operating and developing Subic Bay Freeport as a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial, investment and academe center.

Aside from tourism players, the freeport aims to have industries engaged in seaport operations, airport operations, shipbuilding, ship repair, aircraft maintenance, light and high-technology manufacturing, information and communications, logistics and distribution, power generation and distribution, water, telecommunications, land use, transportation and solid waste management. (Catherine J. Teves, PNA)

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