The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is aiming to model this Freeport after Singapore’s Sentosa Island in order to make it a truly viable world-class tourist destination.
Lighthouse Marina Resort Subic
SBMA chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia, during the recent Third Planning and Development Conference on Rural Tourism held here, said the SBMA is conducting feasibility studies on the conversion of the Subic Bay International Airport into an integrated family resort similar to Sentosa.
“This is the centerpiece of our tourism program,” he said, pointing out that the conversion could bring in millions of foreign tourists to Subic.
He pointed out that Sentosa Island alone is responsible for bringing in 20 million visitors to Singapore and expressed hope that building a Sentosa-like theme park here will generate the same number of tourists for Subic.
“Remember that the target of the Aquino administration is to draw 10 million tourists by 2016. However, if we can build a world-class iconic tourist destination just imagine how many million tourists it would bring in,” he said.
Garcia also revealed that the SBMA will enhance its eco-tourism program and capitalize on existing nature-themed parks here like the Ocean Adventure Marine Park, Treetop Adventure, and Zoobic Safari.
“These three theme parks are responsible for bringing over 1.2 million tourists last year,” he said.
He added that Subic has other tourist attractions that let tourists enjoy horseback riding, trekking and camping.
Apart from local tourists, Garcia said that Subic’s eco-based tourism is attracting more foreign visitors, as evidenced by the recent visit of a United Kingdom-based cruise ship, whose passengers were awed by Subic’s biodiversity and the culture of its indigenous Ayta tribe.
He also said that Subic is now well-prepared to host various international sporting events since the Freeport has the facilities and the manpower needed in staging events like the Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon on June 24 and the recent Subic International Triathlon held on May 5-6.
“In fact, many triathletes actually live here in Subic because they love to train here in the natural environment that we have,” he added.
Garcia also noted that because of its well-protected bay, Subic is able to host different water sport events so that it is now being regarded as the sailing capital of the Philippines, after serving as venue for events such as the Commodore’s Cup, which is part of the Asian sailing circuit competition.
In his message, Garcia also invited the delegates to see what Subic has to offer and expressed support to the Subic-based International School for Sustainable Tourism (ISST), which organized the conference.
“SBMA always stands ready to constantly promote eco-tourism. That’s why, we are fully supporting the international school headed by Dr. Mina Gabor to see in what way we can further promote Subic as an eco-tourism center, considering the unique environment that Subic has compared to many other places in the Philippines,” he said.
Noting the international delegates who participated in the conference, Garcia then expressed hope that they would be able to share with the SBMA their experiences in the promotion and management of biodiversity and eco-tourism areas.