Monday, 4 May 2009

Davao region to post 5% growth this year

CARMELITO Q. FRANCISCO
BusinessWorld
http://www.bworldonline.com/BW050409/content.php?id=058

DAVAO CITY — Agriculture, tourism and mining will continue to be the engines of growth of the Davao Region, said Maria Lourdes D. Lim, regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority.

With these drivers, the gross regional domestic product of the region is projected to breach the 5% growth mark, said Ms. Lim, although the projection is lower compared with the 6.7% growth the region achieved last year.

While agriculture will remain the region’s economic pillar, Ms. Lim singled out tourism as one big factor this year since it posted 10.9% in 2008 compared with the previous year in terms of tourist arrivals. Tourism regional director Sonja V. Garcia earlier said that the agency has been trying to intensify its promotions of the region to attract more tourists.

The agency has promoted the region through the "island to highland" concept. Also, Ms. Garcia said her agency has also packaged the region as having the best dive sites in this part of the country. Last month, the agency spearheaded a diving festival that brought divers to the different parts of the region.

Another emerging industry is medical tourism where private investments started in recent months. Early this year, a property developer announced it will have a special clinic within its 45-hectare project in the Island Garden City of Samal.

Dr. Jonathan A. Alegre of RJP Realty Development Corp., a company developing a upscale subdivisions here, said they are cashing in on the medical tourism potential in setting up a specialty clinic that will cater to tourists and also those who will buy lots in the company property.

Also, the Metro Pacific Investment Corp. is planning to invest heavily on medical tourism. Last year, Andres M. Licaros Jr., president of the Davao Doctors Hospital, said the hospital is drawing up plans to make it one of the best hospitals in the country. Metro Pacific bought 34% of the stocks of Davao Doctors Hospital last year.

Mining, Ms. Lim said, is on its way to a rebound. She said the mining industry is expected to create both revenues and jobs opportunities in the region before the year is over. However, an industry source claimed that the mining industry slump could be longer that expected. Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional director Edilberto L. Arreza said "nothing is moving" in the industry these past months.

Ms. Lim said production of agricultural commodities such as banana and coconut will remain Davao Region’s to income earner this year. Vicente T. Lao, chairman of the Regional Development Council, said last month that agriculture has been an effective shield of the region against the global financial crisis.

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