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When Puerto Princesa International Airport was transferred to Brgy. San Miguel, the street that housed it for many years lost its glory. This affected tourism establishments such as hotels, restaurants, bars and even travel agencies.
City Mayor Lucilo Bayron revealed on December 16 his plan of reviving the street robustness of economic activity in this road through a program called “Tourism Mile”. This is Rizal Avenue Extension, which stretches from the Capitol up to Canigaran Beach.
Bayron, speaking in the opening of Stellar Gardens Events Place last December 16, said that the project will cover Junction 1, where a rotunda featuring Batak sculptures and underground tunnel will be constructed. The road will be widened to give way to many lanes that will be used as bicycle and pedestrian lanes with trees given spacious space.
“We’re talking about half of the road, 3.35 meters one lane and then 2 meters concrete shoulder so that makes 5.35. Then after that a 6-meter sidewalk; the sidewalk will be divided into 1 meter for trees, 2 meters as a pipe lane and 3 meters as a sidewalk for people to walk. There will be bicycles there for rent, and anybody can rent bicycles if you want to go from here to there. That’s about 3.5 kilometers and the way back is another 3.5 if you want to just walk and pass by through different tourism establishments,” Bayron said.
The Tourism Mile project is now being developed under the Local Economic and Investment Promotion Office (LEIPO) of the City, which just started a planning session along with the Department of Public Works and Highways and other government agencies.
LEIPO Development Management Officer IV Lorraine Maduro-Banzuelo said that the project is a personal concept of Mayor Bayron as his way of helping the different business establishments in Rizal Avenue that suffered after the airport transfer, and to get more investors for this side of the City.
Banzuelo said that the planning is still ongoing, and there is no target date and total project cost as of this writing. The only concrete idea, for now, are the construction design and plan, with the program of work to follow in the coming days that will measure the needed amount for it to happen.
“That’s Mayor mismo, kaya sya nagkaroon ng concept ng Tourism Mile dahil lumipat yung airport, napansin nya namatay yung business dito naawa sya, hindi kagaya dati. So what the City can do para mabuhay ang lugar is to do something for the businessman, etu yung tax incentives, hindi puedeng pabayaan ni Mayor ang Rizal Avenue extension, ang gaganda ng mga puno, yung lugar, yung ambiance,” Banzuelo said.
Banzuelo further said this is part of the City Ordinance 919 which is about the business investment in the area that comes with a program on tax incentives like giving exemption to any new tourism establishment for a year. It is open to all new businesses, who just need to apply with his Office to be eligible for exemption. He said around 50 tourism establishments were already given certificates of tax exemption so far.
“We are providing incentives for tourism-related establishments like restaurants, coffee shops, bars, 24/7 stores, money changers, places where transients go. So, we will bring them to one side of the City only. This will form the night-time economy of the City of Puerto Princesa,” Bayron said.
Banzuelo also disclosed to Palawan Daily News that the Bayron administration will be busy with many infrastructure projects next year with some being constructed already under DPWHs Build, Build, Build program of President Rodrigo Duterte. One is the cruise ship port terminal in the Quito area, as well as the planned improvement and beautification of Rizal Park.
Lastly, Bayron reminded all businesses in the City that his administration is not asking any funds or money as donation. He simply wants it to be clear that it is not his style or policy to do such thing.
“We’re doing our best to be business-friendly, hindi po kami nanghihingi ng kahit anong donations from business establishment, pag may nanghingi sa inyo you tell us, kasi we have expressly told everybody not to ask anything,” Bayron said in closing.