Why tourism remains below target

09/28/2011 | By: Emil Jurado

“…Speaking of tourism, an upcoming destination that the country could be proud of is Alphaland’s Balesin Island Club. With more than seven kilometers of white-sand beaches, Balesin Island sits on the Pacific Ocean, 35 kilometers off the eastern cost of Luzon. It is only 25 minutes by plane from Manila.

I happen to know Balesin, an island formerly owned by industrialist Baby Ysmael, and later on acquired by his friend, former Marcos Trade Undersecretary Ed Tordesillas, who partially had it developed by his firm, Montepino. It was soon bought by businessman Roberto V. Ongpin, who saw the potentials of the island.

According to Alphaland President/CEO Mario A. Oreta, Balesin Island Club will be a gateway destination for those who want to enjoy modern comforts in a uniquely designed, exclusive island paradise with its 425-hectare island resort patterned after some of the most luxurious beach resorts around the world—Mykonos, St. Tropez, the Costa Smeralda, Bali and Phuket. An airport with a 1.5-kilometer concrete runway is now being built. This can accommodate regional aircrafts as well as private jets. The luxurious Balesin

Clubhouse is scheduled for completion by May 2012, and the runway will be usable by private jets by then, Oreta said.

Despite all the brickbats thrown at Ongpin by some members of the Aquino administration, especially by the new officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines, Ongpin remains upbeat about Balesin Island and all the developments of Alphaland. At 74, Ongpin cannot seem to stop inviting foreign investors to the country.

That’s what this country needs—people like Ongpin who believe in the Philippines and its future. This despite all the pitfalls thrown along his way….”

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