By Danny Calleja
LEGAZPI CITY — Mayor Noel Rosal announced that an international passenger cruise terminal project will soon rise here as another addition to the growing number of world-class travel industry facilities in this prime Bicol tourism city.
It will be realized through a proposed Php400-million funding the city government is arranging for allocation with the national government through the Tourism Industry and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), he said. “I formally presented the proposal, study and design of this project to the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., in a meeting last week, approved it for endorsement to the TIEZA,” Rosal said.
TIEZA, which is formerly called the Philippine Tourism Authority, is an attached agency to the DOT mandated to develop, manage and supervise tourism infrastructure projects in the country. By the middle of this month, the city mayor said he would make an audience with the TIEZA board of directors to iron out the funding and its implementation. This passenger cruise terminal project will be located along the Legazpi Boulevard, less than a kilometer from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA)-managed city harbor and within the site of the new urban center, an extension of the city’s fast-congesting commercial district.This multibillion-peso project was started by the city government with the opening of the Legazpi Boulevard, a five-kilometer four-lane seaside concrete road that is now being extended towards the Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA).
The SLIA, now ongoing construction within a 200-hectare plateau in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay — 10-kilometers from the city proper, is expected to start operations in 2017 to become a testament to economic growth propelled by the fast-growing trade and tourism industry in Bicol. The new urban center will locate world-class tourism and commercial facilities within an impressive water-front economic landscape with a sweeping 360-degree view of Albay Gulf, opposite the heartwarming scenery of the majestic Mayon Volcano sitting at the northern side of the city, Rosal said.
“We are developing this new urban center through the help of the national government and private investors from here and abroad under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme,” he said. Designed as a massive addition to the country’s vibrant waterfront facilities, this proposed cruise terminal commands a prominent location with the picturesque Albay Gulf as its base and the majestic Mt. Mayon as its backdrop. Its design includes an interior with a clear and functional layout to ensure smooth and seamless passenger service while the exterior adopts a nautical theme with the motif of waves breaking into shore. It will have a berth served by a terminal building and will be able to accommodate even the largest ship currently in service, according to Rosal. “We expect several ocean liners to drop anchor here, bringing with them thousands of tourist from all over the world when it is completed,” he said.
Well-served by a network of roads and links to other tourist destinations along the Albay Gulf, this proposed terminal can look forward to easy access and seamless connection to other parts of Bicol including the Donsol, Sorsogon — World’s Whale Shark Capital, the island-province of Catanduanes that is known for its exciting surf sites and Masbate, Asia’s Rodeo Capital. It will be a 30-minute drive to the SLIA and only minutes away from the Legazpi Central Terminal, the futuristic land transportation hub catering to dozens of bus trips daily to and from Metro Manila and the Visayas and Mindanao islands. The station of the Philippine National Railways, whose trains are heralded to resume plying the Legazpi-Manila route soon this year, is only about a kilometer away from the cruise terminal. “Certainly, the planned superior cruise terminal facilities will complement the country’s prime location between major domestic and international maritime routes and excellent air connectivity to establish the city as the cruise hub of Central Philippines,” Rosal said.
It will also greatly help in the realization of the prospect of Philippine center of community-based tourism as envisioned by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the city. Rosal will be in Madrid, Spain, from June 8-12 on invitation by UNTWO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai for him to meet and exchange views on tourism development and promotion with the international organization’s secretariat at its headquarters. The mayor will also travel to Santiago de Compostela in order to meet with relevant organizations involved in the preservation of historical monuments, the development of community-based tourism, and to undertake a local entrepreneurship program through national and local government support. He will be accompanied by DOT Regional Director for Bicol Maria Ong-Ravanilla, Undersecretary Maria Victoria Jasmin and Joy Bulauitan of the TIEZA. “Based on what I learnt from my visit to Legazpi last year, I consider that the city is endowed with the qualities to become the center for community-based tourism in the Philippines,” Rafai said in his invitation letter to Rosal.
International cruise terminal to rise in Legazpi
By Danny Calleja