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There’s more to Visayas than just tourism – PCCI

CEBU, Philippines — While Cebu and the rest of the Visayas can rely on tourism to fuel the economy, a business leader however is encouraging the region to hone the potential of other industries.

"Visayas is more than [just] tourism," said Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president George T. Barcelon as he called the Visayas business players to be pro-active in propelling the potential of the region, aside from tourism.

Barcelon said the region should also create effective or strategic platform to further boost real estate, manufacturing, and IT-BPO industries.

He added that there is no doubt that the Visayas is on its way to economic boom and that local businesses should be more prepared and clever enough to recognize the opportunities.

Consequently, he added that Visayas is also in the best position to capture the benefits of President Rodrigo Duterte's thrust in prioritizing the development of countryside areas, reinforced by the acceleration of the government's build-build-build program.

While tourism is the main key driver of the Visayas economy, he said opportunities on the other hand are not only limited to tourism, but rather Visayas is blessed with dozens of potentials.

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"Visayas is more than ready to take the [growth] challenge in tourism, manufacturing, services," he said expressing hopes that tourism potential will be exhausted further.

Barcelon mentioned the success of Thailand in attracting tourism despite the fact that people can hardly speak English. The Thai country is generating 37 million arrivals.

Tourism for sure, he said is a "low hanging fruit", specifically in the Visayas, and that it only needs right support like marketing and infrastructure, so that Visayans will be able to reap the right harvest in tourism.

In manufacturing, he said the success of industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue and other world renowned furniture brands in Cebu are few of the strong "bragging rights" of Cebu to regain its "crown" in manufacturing, especially for design-based products.

In 2016, Central Visayas alone registered a robust economic growth of P525 billion gross regional domestic product (GRDP), an 8.8 percent growth, sustaining its position as among the fastest growing region in the country.

The services sector had the biggest contribution to the growth with 55.5 percent share. The Industry sector contributed 39.1 percent, and agriculture, forestry and fisheries contributed 5.9 percent.

In terms of growth, Industry registered highest growth, specifically the construction sub-sector, which grew by 40.4 percent. (FREEMAN)

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