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05 June 2009

Koreans plan $1-b, 615-hectare resort complex in Subic, Zambales

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea — President Arroyo has secured a commitment from a Korean company to invest $1 billion in a resort complex in Subic, Zambales, that is expected to create 144,000 jobs during its construction.

Mrs. Arroyo met representatives from M Castle Inc., a Korean developer of environment- friendly luxury resorts, at the Shilla Hotel Tuesday afternoon to discuss the company’s plan to develop a 615-hectare property in Subic.

M Castle chairman Sang Soo Shin told Mrs. Arroyo that the company also planned to develop a piece of property in Palawan with the help of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

“I welcome M Castle’s potential investments in the Philippines and I am glad that it considered the Philippines, specifically Subic and Palawan, as the choice destinations for your business projects,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

The resort complex in Subic is expected to generate 7,000 direct and 16,000 indirect jobs once it starts operations.

Earlier, Mrs. Arroyo received assurances from Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. Inc. that it would start producing ship components worth $29 million at its Subic shipyard starting in September.

The President agreed to a request from Hanjin President Nam Ho Cho for discounted power rates for its shipyards in Subic and Misamis Oriental for the next 10 years.

Cho called on the President Monday at the Shilla Hotel with former Hanjin Philippines president Jeong Sup Shim.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority has approved in principle the business plan that M Castle submitted on March 10.

In that plan, M Castle said the Subic-based facilities would include beach and forest condominiums, a beach hotel, and a casino hotel and villas with 2,400 rooms; a 36-hole golf course; a Marina club for 50 yachts; a medical center for oriental and western medicine; a water park; a shopping mall, and an academy house for English-language training.

The membership fees would range from $25,000 to $700,000, would assure clients 30 days of time share per year.

The Philippines has been experiencing a boom in the hotel and tourism industry, with a total of 1,231 additional rooms being opened during the first quarter at a cost of more than P8 billion.

Tourist arrivals grew 10.33 percent to 1.3 million in the same period, and of which Subic accounted for 7 percent.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Arroyo left Tuesday for Moscow, where she is to meet representatives from the Russian travel industry and members of the Filipino community.

From Moscow, she will proceed to St. Petersburg where she will deliver a talk on the lessons learned from the global economic crisis during the two-day St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

Mrs. Arroyo will also meet Russian President Dmitri Medvedev before returning to Manila on Saturday. [Joyce Pangco Pañares, Manila Standard Today (Via PLDT)]

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