Bataan posts highest growth as Subic eyes more tourists

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BAGUIO CITY—Tourism projects drawn up for the Subic Bay Freeport last year helped raise investments in the Philippines by 12 percent, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) but the Freeport Area of Bataan posted the highest growth rate.

The NSCB said the total approved foreign investments grew from P258.2 billion in 2011 to P289.1 billion in 2012.

In a statement, the NSCB said the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), the Authority of Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) and the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) posted increases in projected employment, with AFAB recording the highest increase at 136.8 percent.

“AFAB registered the highest growth rate, with P390.6 million worth of investments, expanding by more than four times the P86 million approved in 2011” among seven investment promotion agencies, the board said.

Aside from AFAB, the agencies include SBMA, CEZA, the Board of Investments (BOI), the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), the Clark Development Corp. and the BOI-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In the fourth quarter of 2012 alone, the total foreign investments approved by AFAB increased by 161.3 percent, the NSCB said.

It said the manufacturing sector remained the top industry, with P136.8 billion worth of investment pledges, or 59.4 percent of the total. The top three investing countries for 2012 were The Netherlands, Japan and the United States.

SBMA had announced that tourism would be its key driver of growth, following the rise in 2012 investments.

In recent years, the Subic free port’s tourism establishments, facilities and infrastructure had gained traction based on tourist arrivals, according to SBMA chair Roberto Garcia.

In his state of the Subic free port address in February, Garcia said Subic has been certified as one of the top tourist destinations in the country in 2012 by the Department of Tourism due to its “wide array of quality standard tourist facilities and level of visitation it generated from local and foreign tourists.” Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Inquirer Northern Luzon

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