06 April 2013

SBMA expands subic freeport area to accommodate new ship builders

To maximize the land use potentials of the Subic Freeport, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is now expanding the Subic territory into other nearby areas to accommodate new ship builders.

SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia has disclosed this as part of the six-point strategic plan to fully turn the agency's direction towards "building the new Subic" during his recent State of the Freeport Address (SOFA).

According to Garcia, the Subic territory is being expanded to the Redondo Peninsula while a similar expansion is being made in Hermosa, Bataan to accommodate new ship builders. Other areas are being eyed to be offered to prospective investors also.

Subic currently hosts the sprawling $1.7 billion shipbuilding facility of Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp.-Philippine Inc., the local unit of Korea's shipbuilding giant Hanjin.
Garcia's six thrusts to develop the freeport are: to maximize the land use potential of the Freeport; aggressively pursue the use of Subic as alternate port to decongest Manila; develop the airport for general aviation, aircraft repair, jet charters and other allied aviation activities; fully exploit tourism potential by creating new attractions and destinations, promoting MICE, sports and theme parks to attract more tourists; invest in new equipment and infrastructure needed to support SBMA's strategic initiatives; and improve the agency's financial performance further to provide funds for the strategic plan.

Garcia said that of the six thrusts, the development of Subic tourism is expected to have full sway, as most of the projects planned this year are tourism-related.
He noted that in December last year, the Subic Bay Freeport, and the entire province of Zambales in general, was identified by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as one of the top destinations in the country due to its wide array of quality-standard tourist facilities and the level of visitation it generated from local and foreign tourists.

The recognition, Garcia said, was attributed to the 513% increase in the number of leisure-related new and expansion projects in 2012 led by the Ayala Land's Harbor Point Mall.

Prior to this, DOT-Region III also chose the Subic Bay Freeport as "Premier Convention Capital of Central Luzon." This milestone, Garcia added, was achieved after Subic recorded 293 meetings, incentives, conventions and events (MICE) held in the Freeport in 2012, surpassing the 141 MICE record in 2011 or an increase of 108%.

The 2012 MICE events in the Subic Freeport recorded a total of 129,000 participants, or a 20% increase over the 2011 figures.

Meanwhile, SBMA's aggressive marketing of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) paved the entry of Astro Air International, Inc. which will open the Taiwan-Subic-Taiwan and Subic-Boracay-Subic commercial routes starting this June.

In addition, the annual Balikatan exercises will be held at the SBIA's southwest and southeast aprons, while another portion of the airport will be occupied by the Department of National Defense under commercial terms. (Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat, Manila Bulletin)