Bicol International Convention Center seen to boost regional economy

CAMALIG, Albay -- The economy of Bicol region is expected to further develop with the realization of the proposed PHP3.5-billion Bicol International Convention Center (BICC) here.

Councilor Meden Gamboa, chairperson of the town council's committee on infrastructure, in an interview Wednesday, said the project is an initiative of Albay 2nd district congressman Joey Salceda to stimulate the economy of Bicol region "specifically the tourism industry with the biggest contributions to the GDP of the country”.

The proposed project received the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte and is awaiting inclusion in the national expenditure program. It will be constructed on a 7.443-hectare land on Quituinan Hill in this municipality facing Mayon Volcano. Construction is targeted to start next year and expected to be completed within two to three years.

Gamboa said the PHP3.5 billion covers the architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical components of the entire project, which includes a sports arena with 4,000 seating capacity.

According to the local legislator, the feasibility study for the project has been completed and submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Albay 2nd district engineering office.

Gamboa added that the poor residents of the town are expected to benefit from the project, particularly from tourism receipts.

“This is expected to provide an avenue for conferences, tourism activity, market place for local products, create local jobs, livelihood and increase revenues. It will increase the income of the poor men and women and improve their livelihoods through active participation in the value chains,” the councilor said.

“The first to benefit from this project is the municipality of Camalig but at the end of the day, the entire region will benefit from it,” said Gamboa, pointing out that the BICC, which is a purpose-built conference center, will be of international standard.

Comparative data for fiscal year 2016-2017 showed there was 11.66 percent growth rate in foreign and domestic tourist arrivals in Bicol region.

“Data speaks for itself, I can say that BICC will not only boost tourism industry but fully contribute to improved economic condition of Albayanos and of Bicolanos,” he said. (PNA)