THE retail sector is feeling the rush from the continuing growth of the Central Visayan economy, which is still expanding faster than the national average, an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said.
Neda 7 Director Efren Carreon observed that retailers in Region 7 are investing more on their business, and that international brands like fashion powerhouse H&M and the convenience store chain Family Mart are expanding their operations in the region.
Apart from retail, tourism also contributed to the region’s growth, with visitor arrivals increasing from negative 18.07 percent in the first semester of 2014 to 21.81 percent in 2015.
Carreon reported that domestic visitor arrivals declined, from 11.60 to negative 9.87 percent, but foreign arrivals increased from negative 65.49 percent to 185.59 percent. In early 2014, the region was still reeling from a powerful earthquake and typhoon Yolanda, which struck in the last quarter of 2013.
Bohol reported a slight increase in visitor arrivals from negative 7.22 percent in the first half of 2014 to negative 5.39 percent in the same period in 2015. Visitor arrivals in Cebu increased from negative 25.01 percent to 33.85 percent.
During the Regional Statistics Committee meeting last Feb. 2, Carreon also provided the economic situationer for the first and second quarters of 2015.
He said that although Central Visayas’s economy grew faster than that of the country in terms of GDP (gross domestic product) at 8.8 percent, the region ranked third after Davao (9.4 percent) and Central Luzon (9.0 percent).
Export volume also showed an uptick with 28.18 percent growth in 2015 compared to 23.31 percent in 2014. Imports (measured in metric tons) increased by 33.28 percent in the first semester of 2015 compared to 11.14 percent growth in the same half in 2014.
More people, however, would have wanted more jobs or at least more work hours. The employment rate slightly increased from 94 percent in 2014 to 94.40 percent in 2015, although underemployment remained high at 18.50 percent in 2014 and 20.80 percent in 2015.