CENTRAL Visayas continued to enjoy a vibrant economy in the first half of 2017 amid challenges, according to an assessment of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) 7 based on initial data.
During the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 full council meeting in Siquijor, last Tuesday, Neda 7 Director Efren Carreon presented the economic performance of the region on tourism, retail, export, information technology and business process management, employment, agriculture, and inflation.
“Tourism was resilient amidst terror threats...Strong local government leadership helped contain the impact of the terror threat on tourism,” noted Carreon in his presentation.
Data released by Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 showed that from January to April 2017, tourist arrivals to Central Visayas dropped by 3.02 percent, welcoming over two million visitors.
However, Cebu continued to post growth amid the regional decline. The province welcomed close to 1.5 million local and international tourists. This is an increase of 4.16 percent from 1.43 million visitors during the same period in 2016.
Major challenges faced by the region in the first half of the year include the the conflict in Bohol with the Abu Sayaff that led to travel advisories issued by foreign countries including Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United States against traveling to Central Visayas; traffic and infrastructure woes, and Cebu’s delisting from Tholon’s top 10 outsourcing destinations.
On the other hand, retail, although growth in the first half was “modest” compared to election year 2016, Neda said the sector continues to expand with mall players’ investments expanding in the countryside, side by side with tourists spending, OFW remittances, and higher disposable income among locals.
“Investments in the retail industry continued to expand and has spread out to the countryside. Food service, electronics, and health products lead growth,” reported Neda 7.
Data released by Colliers International Philippines shows that retail space in Cebu is expanding. As of the second quarter, retail stock stood at 1.01 million square meters. By 2019, this is expected to reach 1.2 million square meters, five times higher that the current stock.
For IT-BPM, Neda asserted that this sector remains strong, marked by company expansions.
“Cebu and Negros Oriental remain preferred destinations among outsourcing companies despite losing spots in Tholon’s list of top outsourcing sites,” Neda remarked.
The agriculture sector also exhibited positive developments in the first half. Data shows a 10.9-percent increase in volume production for crops, 9.4 percent for livestock, and 5.9 percent for poultry, excluding Negros Oriental. Fisheries, however, dropped by 7.8 percent.
Inflation from January to June 2017 averaged 3.2 percent. Meanwhile, latest employment rate is at 95.3 percent as of July 2017, higher from 94.6 percent in April.
Merchandise exports also continued to recover. Top merchandise exports of Central Visayas are electronics, gold, machinery and transport equipment, as well as cathodes/refined copper.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 30, 2017.
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