ECONOMIC GROWTH. Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairperson, said the operation of Bicol International Airport will boost the region's economy, during an interview on Thursday (Jan. 9, 2020). He said construction of the airport is now in the final stages. (File photo)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Mayor Noel Rosal, also Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairman, on Thursday expressed optimism that the operation of Bicol International Airport (BIA) will provide a big boost to the region's economy by bringing in more tourists and investments.

Rosal, in an interview, said the construction of the BIA is now in the final stage and the facility is expected to operate before the year-end.

"The operation of the BIA would bring millions of foreign tourists in Bicol and those tourists are not just visitors but also potential investors who can probably put up business establishments that will surely improve the economic growth rate and address the unemployment problem of the entire Bicolandia," he said.

Rosal, meanwhile, said the RDC-Bicol will support the revival of Philippine National Railways (PNR) that is seen to decongest the traffic situation on the main road going to Metro Manila and vice versa.

He said the construction of the 639-kilometer railway project is expected to start on the first quarter this year.

"Based on the study, the travel time from Manila to Bicol would be shortened by almost 80 percent or from the original traveling time of 12 hours, it would reduce to only five hours," he added.

Moreover, Rosal vowed to strengthen the small and medium enterprises in this city as one way of improving livelihood in the communities by giving more employment opportunities to the people.

In the agricultural sector, he said the RDC will work to improve the cacao, pili and abaca industries, noting that these agricultural products have a very high demand for export. (PNA)