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SCTEX triggers 24% jump in Central Luzon’s tourist arrivals

The Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) ranks among the most vital infrastructures designed to stimulate the “Extended W Growth Corridor” (EWGC) in Central Luzon.

This was the assessment of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), adding that the roadway will definitely play a key role in the socio-economic progress of the provinces of Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora, and the cities of Angeles and Olongapo.

NEDA assistant director in Central Luzon Lynette Y. Bautista disclosed that the early and notable sign of SCTEX “driving” the uptrend in the growth corridor, is the 24.2 percent increase in visitor arrivals last year. From 427,364 local and foreign tourists in 2007, the figures rose to 530,802 in 2008.

“SCTEX enhanced the complementary roles of Subic and Clark. Tourism drastically increased in the region due to significantly reduced travel time,” Bautista said.

Appreciation of land values along the SCTEX and other positive impact of the state-run expressway are closely monitored within the next three years as post evaluation of the flagship project.

Bautista said the SCTEX is expected to further increase the region’s 8.3 percent share in the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP), the basic measure of the country’s economic progress. Central Luzon ranked as the third highest in the 2008 regional gross domestic product, next to the National Capital Region and the Calabarzon.

The region’s contribution to the national economy in terms of sectoral classification is services at 40 per cent, followed by the industrial sector at 35.5 percent and the agricultural sector at 24.5 percent.

NEDA has identified growth sources which will readily utilize SCTEX as the backbone of the Central Luzon logistics hub, despite the downtrend brought about by the recent global financial crisis.

Business process outsourcing (BPO), health and wellness, logistics and port development, food, agribusiness, aquaculture, tourist destination and facilities development and ancillary services and products to locators in industrial estates and economic zones are among the growth areas eyed by NEDA.

Bautista said the service sector showed an increase in job requirements — and growth may even be higher if the region would take advantage of the expanding health tourism and BPO industries.

SCTEX is the country’s longest tollway traversing the provinces of Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales. The 94-kilometer expressway was built to establish an international logistics hub in Central Luzon and accelerate economic development in the region and nearby provinces