BAGUIO CITY – Camp John Hay (CJH), the former American rest and recreation center north of Manila, has now blossomed into a major economic hub in Northern Luzon following record-breaking increases in the number of locators and generated jobs over the past several years.
Dr. Jaime Eloise M. Agbayani, president and chief executive officer of the John Hay Management Committee (JHMC), said there are currently 117 locators who decided to do business in the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ), which is a 50 percent increase in the number of business enterprises over the past four years, and a 196 percent increase in generated jobs that now reached over 4,176 workers as of last year.
The JHMC reported the existing number of workers is a 20 percent increase from the total number of workers inside the zone in 2013 where the labor force was recorded to be around 3,473.
“Employees of business outsourcing companies account for 70 percent of the workers inside the zone,” Agbayani stressed, citing that the call center workers are employed by Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG and Convergys.
In 2013, the BPO companies reported a total of 1,746 workers that increased by a whopping 40 percent, bringing the total BPO employees to 2,450 last year.
According to her, 92 percent of the hired workers inside the zone are residents of Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) and the rest of the Cordillera pursuant to existing policies that workers must come from the city and other neighboring areas provided they are qualified for the said jobs.
In terms of the zone’s contribution to the growth of tourism in the BLISTT, the JHMC official disclosed based on data obtained from accommodation facilities, tourist arrivals inside CJH increased by 13 percent or a total of 187,153 visitors recorded to have visited the different places last year compared to the 165,622 visitors in the camp in 2013.
Agbayani claimed the opening of businesses inside the zone was driven by the increasing tourist arrivals, both local and foreign, showing that 2014 was another good year where economic generation was noted to have significantly increased.
She claimed the surge in tourist arrivals was a result of the continuous promotion of the camp for recreational and eco-cultural tourism, for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions and the opening of new retail shops and restaurants at the Ayala Techno Hub alone, with the opening of its second business process outsourcing facility and additional retail shops and restaurants, the locators increased to a total of 34 last year.
She emphasized the intensified marketing of the historical core as a preferred destination for corporate events and family occasions had also contributed to the significant increase in visitors in the area.
JHMC records show there were 48 marketing events, functions and eco-tours held in the historical core last year with nuptials accounting for about 68 percent of the events.
The historical core is composed of the Bell House, amphitheatre and the cemetery of negativism.
By Dexter A. See