Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bicol’s rich biodiversity, unique eco-tourism destinations impress American business tycoon
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 27 (PNA) -- The unique eco-tourism destinations in the countryside, rich biodiversity and friendly people impressed visiting American business tycoon Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd.

“The Philippines is a nice and symbolic place to go with good environmental practices and warm, friendly and very hospitable people. It was a terrific experience here in Legazpi City and in Donsol, Sorsogon with warm and friendly people and remarkable good environmental efforts with WWF (World Wildlife Fund),” Fain told the Philippines News Agency in an exclusive interview at the Legazpi City Domestic Airport VIP Lounge on Monday afternoon.

The CEO of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. -- a global cruise company that operates 38 ships under the Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Pullmantur, Azamara Cruises and CDF Croisières de France brands, arrived in Legazpi City through his private jet on Saturday and met with Mayor Noel Rosal and Albay Governor Joey Salceda before heading to Donsol town in Sorsogon for whale shark interaction and environmental advocacy in pursuit of combating carbon gas emission.

He said his firm embarks on projects that will address carbon emission reduction, marine conservation issues for sustainable development goals.

The Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the world’s second largest cruise company, established the Ocean Fund in 1996 to support marine conservation organizations in preserving the world's oceans.

The mission of the Ocean Fund is to support efforts to restore and maintain a healthy marine environment, minimize the impact of human activity on this environment, and promote awareness of ocean and coastal issues and respect for marine life.

In Legazpi, Fain visited several hotels and tourist destinations and lauded Rosal for his remarkable environmental projects that complemented the eco-tourism destinations and flourishing business establishments with Mayon volcano as Bicolandia’s icon.

In Donsol, Sorsogon, he went diving in San Miguel Island where he took a glimpse of the healthy corals, shoals of fish and even sea snakes.

He, however, was not able to glide with the gentle giant fish "butanding" or whale shark, unlike his colleagues.

Aside from praising the good environmental practices and friendly people in the countryside, Fain lauded the remarkable work ethics of the Filipinos.

He said his company prefers Filipino workers because of their outstanding work habit and capabilities.

The cruise ship magnate said the bulk of his employees are highly competent and hardworking Filipinos who are instrumental in the company’s continuous success.

“Our company has 11,000 Filipinos, the biggest crew among other nationalities. In the next five years we’re expecting to have 25,000 Filipinos as part of our crew. Our Filipino employees are terrific,” he said.

When asked if he is considering putting cruise ships in Legazpi, the country’s emerging tourist destination outside the National Capital Region, Fain said they are looking for a worldwide partnership and will be coming back to Legazpi.

“We’re announcing worldwide partnership. The Philippines is a good prospect for business. We have nine cruise ships in Asia,” he said.

Rosal, supported by Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, is batting for international cruise ship operation in Legazpi to draw more tourists as an alternative mode of transportation aside from airplanes that use the international airport and by land route to Bicol Region, thus, create more jobs and investments in the countryside.(PNA) LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD/EDS