Of MICE and moneyBy Amadís Ma. Guerrero, Contributor
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The thrust of Albay is towards tourism and economic development, according to Governor Joey S. Salceda.
Specifically, in the capital city of Legazpi, the economic developments can be summed up in the acronym MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions). Thus, of Mice and money. Any resemblance to John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men” is purely the imagination of English majors.
“The meetings are a combined presentation of business opportunities and our major attractions,” says City Administrator Noel E. Rosal, husband of Mayor Geraldine Rosal and himself a former mayor of Legazpi.
“The Legazpi Investment Code identifies investment areas and these should not compete with local businessmen,” observes Rosal, an engineering graduate from Adamson University in Manila. “We do business in Manila, here, and in Asia. The intention is to get people to visit here.”
P1 billion has been invested in Barcadero de Legazpi, a sprawling mall, playground and spic-and-span ecotel (Ellis), with a high zipline stretching over the grounds just beside the Albay Gulf. And Singapore businessmen have invested P120M in the city’s new terminal.
“We are now strong on convention centers,” he adds. “Fourteen conventions are scheduled this year, such as the Jaycees and the Municipal League. The Ibalon Center for Research can accommodate up to 7,500 delegates, and The Oriental Hotel, 1,000 delegates. The leading hotels are The Oriental, St. Ellis and La Piazza. And the income from these and other hotels “is always a billion,” notes Rosal.
Foreign investments total P1 billion, with an equal amount in domestic investments. And the city’s annual income is P700 million, about evenly divided between the Internal Revenue Allowance (IRA) and local sources.
On the other hand, the city executive reports, President Aquino has pledged a flood-control fund “which will make Legazpi an all-weather city and stop flooding.”
“We always participate in World Center trade shows and expositions in the Mall of Asia, Megamall and the tours of the Department of Tourism,” says Rosal.
His pet project is the ongoing 50-hectare New Legazpi Urban District, with “the longest boulevard outside Manila,” with the road leading to a projected international airport.
Tourist arrivals in the city increased from 2,000 to 4,800 last year. A prime tourist destination is the Ligñon Hill Nature Park, where you can wobble along the Hanging Bridge (P100) or fly through the air a la Spiderman (Zipline, P300) or in a more sedate basic position (P250).
There’s also rappelling and Paint Ball (“it’s like a war game”).
At the rustic Barangay Pawa in Legazpi, you can undertake a wild ATV ride (supervised) through the foothills of Mt. Mayon, ending at the so-called Lava Watch.
The younger members of the media team experienced it and reported that it was fun, but it was a bit intimidating for this oldtimer.
How about you, dude, care to try it?
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