First tourism ecozone unveiled in Cebu

By Judith Balea, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Feb 01 2009 10:43 AM | Updated as of Feb 01 2009 06:43 PM

MACTAN ISLAND, Cebu - In a bid to attract more investments, the Department of Toursim (DoT), in an agreement with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), granted the biggest international resort and spa here the special economic zone status.

Sitting on an 8-hectare property in Barangay Maribago, Imperial Palace Water Resort and Spa is the first ever tourism ecozone to be operational in the country under Presidential Proclamation No. 1681.

As such, the P4.5-billion condominium-hotel and resort project, which is owned by Korean-led Philippine BXT Corp., has been enjoying incentives like tax holidays and the duty-free importation of capital equipment.

DoT Secretary Ace Durano said the new development is a proof of the continued interest of foreign businessmen in the Philippines and a welcome addition to address the country's increasing need for more tourism accommodations.

"Phil BXT's major decision to invest here despite the global economic situation signals investors' confidence in the country's potential and affirms us of the Philippines' viable assets," he said.

Morever, Durano noted, the new project has helped generate jobs for the communities in Cebu.

"During construction phase, it employed around 2,000. It is expected to employ another 1,100 when it opens this April."

Imperial Palace features 557 contemporary and luxuriously designed rooms, suites and villas complete with water park resort amenities.

It is among the country's biggest tourism investments to date.