(Source: Business Mirror | June 15, 2017)
Ayala Land Inc. said it is spending P1 billion to initially develop Sicogon Island Tourism Estate in Iloilo.
Together with joint-venture partner Sicogon Island Development Corp., the company is putting up mixed-use commercial and residential establishments and an integrated transport system that will cater to a mix of local and international markets. The first phase of the development will include the construction of a 1.3-kilometer runway and airport facility, as well as a jetty port set to open in 2017.
The estate will also have a resort-town center with retail shops surrounding a 4.3-hectare lagoon, and a series of accommodations, including a bed and breakfast, a budget-friendly hostel and a 50-room boutique hotel with direct access to a 5-kilometer coastline.
It said the Sicogon development is envisioned to be a model for sustainable planning and construction. Its retail shops and beachfront hotels will only have three floors and will have a setback of at least 40 meters from the coastline. A total of 282 hectares will be kept as protected forested area.
“All our efforts are geared toward upholding responsible ecotourism, as well as bringing about inclusive growth in communities such as Sicogon,” said Ryan Ybanez, general manager of Sicogon Island Tourism Estate Corp.
“As much as possible, retail will be localized and will feature Filipino-inspired architecture,” he said.
While development is under way, the company said it is working closely with Ayala Foundation and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, as well as partner-schools Leon Ganzon Polytechnic College and Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College, to provide training for local talents and to prepare them for employment on the island or by Ayala Land-partner network companies. The company’s so-called train and employ approach has produced a total of 57 college scholars, 315 local trainees in various tourism-related fields. Nearly 200 locals have now been employed in Sicogon Island.
The company plans to source 80 percent to 90 percent of the estate’s workforce from the local community, which will translate to 20,000 jobs in the next five years. Approximately P1 billion annually in earnings for the community will be generated from business opportunities derived from prospective retail and commercial establishments.