CEBU CITY– The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in Central Visayas is optimistic on the region’s economy to recover gradually amid the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic with infrastructure and tourism as key growth drivers.
“Our positive outlook continues to be there. We will rebound with our infrastructure projects in place and the plan for mass transport system, which should enhance our attractiveness to foreign companies,” NEDA-7 regional director Efren Carreon said in a virtual press briefing aired on the Facebook page of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV), Wednesday.
Carreon went on that Central Visayas’ economic recovery must be anchored on the infrastructure buildup under the Duterte administration to make the region more attractive to investors post-crisis era.
The country’s “Build Build Build” program should pump prime our economy and being centrally located in the country, the region is in a great position to attract more investments from abroad, especially those leaving China post-pandemic, Carreon stated.
He cited some of the infrastructure developments in the region that can propel it to faster economic recovery. He mentioned that Central Visayas has the modern airport and the Metro Cebu Expressway is on the pipeline. The new container port is about to commence later this year and other airports and seaports in the region have also been upgraded, he added.
Carreon also pointed out that domestic tourism is likely to start to recover by the end of this year or early 2022. Tourism has been one of the most gravely affected industries in the region by the current crisis.
Carreon estimated the tourism sector incurred losses of about P12.5 billion in the first quarter of 2020 alone due to travel restrictions and mass quarantine measures.
Accommodation facilities, including hotels and resorts, recorded the biggest foregone revenue at P5.5 billion, followed by restaurants at P4.7 billion, retail at P1.9 billion and transport at P876 million, Carreon bared.
He also projected that the services sector will continue to dominate the regional economy even if it has taken a backseat during the economic downturn. Carreon also sees more focus on the agriculture sector.
“The agriculture sector has proven to be very essential during this crisis as more people rely on farm products to survive. That’s the opportunity there. Our agri-fishery sector currently contributes about five percent to our economy, but there’s so much potential. We need to invest more into the sector to increase production,” Carreon said.
While the Central Visayas economy is poised to start its recovery path in the second half of the year, Carreon said growth might not be as robust as it was in 2019.