Gov. Edgar Chatto’s trip to two important Chinese provinces has been successful in promoting investment and tourism that includes what will be the first Bohol direct flight from China.
Chinese investors also see prospects in agriculture, technology, accommodation facilities and theme parks in Bohol.
Chatto sealed Bohol’s new brotherhood with Sichuan province, which has over 80 million people while strengthening its existing sisterhood with Jiangxi province, which population is 46 million.
Both iconic, Bohol’s tarsier and Sichuan’s panda are now “brothers,” giving official mascots to the promotion of the partnership and cooperation of the provinces in central Philippines and China.
David Huang, president and chief executive officer of the RGBC Holding Corp., is opening China-Bohol investment promotion and marketing strategy centers in Sichuan and Jiangxi.
The Sichuan Airlines is strongly interested in having a direct flight from Sichuan’s capital city of Chengdu, all the way touching down the new Bohol Panglao International Airport.
Xue Hehua, airlines general manager, expressed this during Chatto’s meeting with the Sichuan economic adviser and commerce and industry chamber.
Bohol’s new airport of international standard is lately projected by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to be inaugurated and opened to commercial operation in the fourth quarter of this year.
But what thrills and is most dramatic about it is that the long fancied modern airport is finally materialized after 30 years of planning and pushing, Chatto said.
On September 13, a DOTr team of Usec. for Aviation and Airports Manuel Antonio Tamayo, Usec. for Finance Garry De Guzman, and Asec. for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez inspected the project progress.
As of September 10, the project was reported to be 93.78% complete, including its energized airport approach, ground lighting system and beacon light tower.
The DOTr team was joined by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Sec. Ernesto Pernia and Presidential Management Staff Officer Jhazzie Poblete.
The Boholano NEDA secretary has worked closest with Chatto and Rep. Rene Relampagos in resolving and addressing essential concerns affecting the fast and smooth implementation of the airport project.
The three did work hard in saving the Panglao airport project when it was “set aside” in the earlier part of the previous administration.
Pernia was then head of the UP Advisory Council of the provincial government.
Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II reported the successful Bohol investment and tourism roadshows led by the governor in both Sichuan and Jiangxi.
Bohol’s development framework was presented by Chatto himself; economic profile and investment areas, Damalerio; partnership and brotherhood/sisterhood, Center for Culture and Arts Development Officer Romulo Tagaan; and tourism spots and programs, Bohol Tourism Officer Josephine Cabarrus.
The roadshow in Sichuan was held at the Hotel Intercontinental, Chengdu Global Center, where the Bohol-Sichuan partnership or “tarsier-panda brotherhood” was also sealed.
The pact binds Bohol and Sichuan provinces on the development and institutional exchanges in education, medical, health, academic, cultural exchanges, and other cooperation aspects.
The investment-tourism roadshow in Sichuan was also called the “One Belt, One Road” new business opportunity entering the Philippines conference.
It was organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Sichuan and was further attended by investors in other areas like education, artificial intelligence, and sports facilities.
While in Sichuan, the Bohol delegation took time to visit the Chengdu Museum, Panda Conservatory Center, and Dujiangyan Water Conservancy Project.
Minjiang River in Chengdu has been rerouted to create a man-made river that flows to the Dujiangyan irrigation system serving 7,000 square kilometers of rice fields.
Chatto, also accompanied by his wife and Balilihan Mayor Pureza Veloso-Chatto, met with Zhao Zhenxi, Sichuan provincial leader and vice chairman of the Sichuan Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, at the Chengdu Hall, Jinjiang Hotel.
They were joined by Tang Rui, deputy director general of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs; Xie Haiyin, deputy director general, Sichuan Provincial Tourism Development Committee; and the Sichuan Airlines general manager.
The Bohol group proceeded to Jiangxi, where Chatto was met by his counterpart, Gov. Li Lianhong, Vice Gov. Wu Zhongqiong, and other officials.
As heads of the sister provinces since 2010, the Bohol and Jiangxi governors exchanged notes about their respective provinces, particularly on tourism and investment opportunities.
Jiangxi and Bohol happen to have an identical economic growth rate of 9.1 %, although the Chinese province roars with a gross domestic product (GDP) of ¥2.7 trillion.
Accordingly, Jiangxi has more than half a billion—or 500 million—tourists in a year, but only half a million or 500,000 are foreign, among whom are Filipinos.
Both officials vowed cooperation for each province’s economic development by advancing culture and tourism with environmental management.
Jiangxi and Bohol share the same attractions—natural landscapes, culture, history, and heritage.
Both provinces are members of the World Famous Mountains Association, featuring Bohol’s Chocolate hills and Jiangxi’s Mt. Lushan.
In Jiangxi, Chatto and party also met with the Jiangxi Provincial Tourism Group Co. Ltd. led by Chairman Zheng Shaoxiong, General Manager Mei Li, and Securities and Legal Department Manager Song Jiaxing.
The company owns and operates the Tourism Economic Enterprise Department of the Jiangxi Provincial Government, with a total asset of ¥30 billion.
It engages in seven aspects of tourism that include food, healthcare, living, transportation, entertainment, tours and shopping in and out of Jiangxi.
The company officials see prospects for investments in agriculture, room accommodation and theme parks in Bohol.
They also met with Yang Xiaohui, director of Communist Party’s Working Committee of Nanchang Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, and Li Min, director, Administrative Committee of Nanchang National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone.
While in Jiangxi, they were toured to the Nanchang High-Tech Development Zone, Nanchang Climate Change Park, and Traditional Chinese Medicine Center.
The week-long official travel of the governor and his group pursued a stronger partnership that could draw to Bohol fresh investments and more tourists.
The trip was paid by the Chinese government through its consulate in Cebu headed by Consul General Shi Yong, who formally invited the Bohol governor and his party to come to China. (Ven Arigo, Leah M. Sumampong)