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Ayala land to invest P6 billion in new ecotourism project

PROPERTY giant Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) will be investing an initial P6 billion to develop the first sustainable ecotourism estate in the country.

Located in El Nido, Palawan, one of the Philipines’s prime tourism destinations, Lio is a 100-hectare development that shall feature hotels and resorts, tourism and commercial establishments and residential communities with world-class amenities that blend with the natural landscape, according to ALI officials.

In a text message, incumbent ALI President Antonino T. Aquino told the BusinessMirror the company’s investment in Lio “is about P6 billion in the next five years.” The first phase of the resort development “should be completed by the end of [2015]. Full development of the other phases will take about 10 years,” he added.

The first phase of the project consists of 25 hectares, which shall include a unique township development called Lio Beach Village, featuring bed and breakfasts, resorts, shops and dining establishments amid civic spaces. Ten Knots Development Corp., a subsidiary of ALI, will develop the property.

‘A jewel of sustainable tourism’

AQUINO explained that Lio is the original name of the area in El Nido [where the new project will rise]. It is right beside the El Nido airport.”

After visiting the project site, Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. described Lio as “a new jewel of sustainable tourism in the Philippines.”

He added: “In more ways than one, we will find that Palawan and El Nido will become even more, as some people will describe it, as the most beautiful place in the world.”

International publications have recently been singing the praises of the Philippines and Palawan. The National Geographic Traveler tagged El Nido as one of the top 10 destinations for its Best Spring Trips for 2014, while Travel + Leisure included Pangalusian Island, another ALI resort in El Nido, as one of the Best Places for Travel this year.

The Department of Tourism aims to attract some 10 million foreign visitors to the Philippines, and 56 million domestic tourists by 2016.

Expansion of tourism portfolio

FOR his part, AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts Corp. (AHRC) President Jose Emmanuel Jalandoni said more tourism projects are in the pipeline for the company. “It has always been our vision and thrust to support the Philippines’s flourishing tourism industry. [AHRC] will continue to build its tourism portfolio by expanding into more geographical areas with hotels, resorts and tourism estates,” he said in a news statement sent over the weekend.

 

Aside from El Nido Resorts, AHRC also owns Anvaya Cove in Bataan with the Subic Bay Development and Industrial Estate Corp., the Hotel InterContinental, Cebu Marriott, the Holiday Inn, the Fairmont and Raffles Hotels, and its own boutique hotel chain, Seda Hotels.

Last year Jalandoni said AHRC was looking to expand its hotel portfolio to 4,000 rooms by 2015.

ALI closed at P31.40 on Friday, down from Thursday’s P31.60.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Lio was held on March 27 led by Aquino, together with Jalandoni and other ALI officials—Ten Knots Development Corp. President Laurent Lamasuta, Ten Knots Philippines Inc. President Mariglo Laririt —as well as government officials, led by Tourism Assistant Secretary Eugene T. Kaw, Palawan Gov. Jose C. Alvarez, El Nido Municipal Mayor Edna Gacot-Lim, Vice Mayor Nieves Rosento and other local government officials.

Ten Knots Philippines is the operator of El Nido Resorts, which includes Miniloc Island Resort and Lagen Island Resort in El Nido; Apulit Island Resort in Taytay; and Pangulasian Island Resort in El Nido. Last November Ayala Land took full ownership and control of El Nido Resorts after buying out its partner Asian Conservation Co. in the Ten Knots Group (Ten Knots Development and Ten Knots Philippines).

Livelihood opportunities

IN the same news statement, Aquino said the groundbreaking ceremony “marks another milestone for Ayala Land as we expand our investment and development in tourism. Lio is Ayala Land’s first venture into tourism estate development and is the first master-planned ecotourism estate in the Philippines.”

He added that “unlike other tourism destinations in the country, the entire property is planned, constructed and managed by one developer with sustainability in mind.”

Jalandoni echoed this, assuring that Lio would be patterned after El Nido Resorts, which has always been cited as a model for sustainable ecotourism development.

“Lio’s character and design are guided by principles of sustainability—developing the land with the least impact to the environment—following the development and thrust of El Nido Resorts, from planning, construction and operations,” he said.

Palawan was declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a biosphere reserve in 1990. In 1998 the government declared El Nido a managed resource protected area.

Jalandoni also said Lio “will further support the thriving tourism industry in the country, and generate employment and livelihood opportunities for the local community.  The development will surely boost El Nido’s reputation as a world-class tourist destination.”

Lio is in Barangay Villa Libertad, El Nido, within Bacuit Bay on the west coast of the northern portion of the province of Palawan.  The property is bounded by the beach on one side and the mountains on the other, with interesting water features on site.

El Nido Resorts was originally founded by Filipino and Japanese divers, establishing the Ten Knots Group in 1983 for the purpose.  It has always advocated responsible tourism and has exercised stewardship over its natural environment. For over three decades, Ten Knots has strived to maintain a delicate balance between achieving tourism development goals, conserving the fragile environment where it operates and meeting the needs of the local community.

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In Photo: Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. (third from left) inspects the site of a new ecotourism estate to be developed by Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) in El Nido, Palawan. Jimenez describes Lio as “a new jewel of sustainable tourism in the Philippines.” From left are Al Legaspi, chief operating officer of AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts Corp. (AHRC); Laurent Lamasuta, president of Ten Knots Development Corp.; Antonino T. Aquino, incumbent president of ALI; Eugene Kaw, assistant secretary of the Department of Tourism; Art Corpuz, ALI head of urban and regional planning; Jose Emmanuel Jalandoni, president of AHRC; and Joel Luna, ALI head of innovations and designs.  (Contributed Photo)

 

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