‘Solar City to boost tourist biz’

Manila Standard| Written by: Sandy Araneta| January 12, 2017

Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Thursday assured local business owners that the soon-to-be-built Solar City commercial and business district in Manila Bay will not kill smaller establishments in the city, particularly in Malate and Ermita.

Estrada said the 148-hectare Solar City will even boost the restaurant and entertainment industry at the city’s tourist belt by bringing in more tourists.

“Solar City is intended to be built as a tourist- and entertainment-oriented operation, so we expect more tourists to come once the project has been completed. In turn this will benefit businesses in the nearby areas, such as Malate and Ermita,” he pointed out.

Billed as a state-of-the-art, tourism, commercial and residential district in Manila Bay, Solar City will have three reclaimed islands where business centers, residential and commercial properties, and tourism facilities, including an international cruise ship terminal, will be put up.

Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. has partnered with the city government to reclaim and develop the land needed for Solar City.

“There will be more tourist arrivals once the cruise terminal has been put up, and it will bring more income to the surrounding communities and businesses, aside from billions in taxes the city government will get,” Estrada said.

MGDC Vice Chairman Edmundo Lim echoed the mayor’s assurance, saying Solar City will never become a competitor to local businesses, particularly to the Ermita-Malate Business Owners Association, Inc.

“Where do tourists go upon arriving in Manila? It’s usually in Ermita and Malate, also in Intramuros and the shopping districts. Businesses in these areas mainly depend on tourists, so our role is to bring in more tourists for them,” Lim pointed out.

“Can you imagine, if you have two-million tourists arriving every year and they go to Intramuros paying only P100 entrance (fee) per person, it’s incredible, isn’t it? It makes a great impact on Manila,” he added.

The local tourism industry that will be rejuvenated by the operation of Solar City will also employ hundreds of thousands of Manileños, addressing the city’s unemployment problem, Lim said.

Solar City is expected to generate 100,000 jobs during its construction phase and up to 500,000 jobs once it becomes operational, which Estrada believes would help Manila’s unemployment situation.

Estrada said the project would be a rich revenue source for the city government, as it is projected to generate up to P17 billion in taxes every year on top of P10 billion in real property taxes.

Solar City has also gained the support of President Rodrigo Duterte among other reclamation projects lined up by the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

The city government is almost finished processing applications for permits and clearances of MGDC, which won the joint contract with the city back in 1991.

Once PRA issues a Notice to Proceed, the reclamation is expected to be finished in 18 months, followed by the construction of the cruise ship terminal and other vertical structures.