By Janina C. Lim, Reporter
CORAL World Park (CWP) Undersea Resorts, Inc. is still pursuing its $250-million leisure and tourism project in Coron, Palawan.
“The new timeline now is 2021,” CWP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Monozca told BusinessWorld, referring to the completion of the project’s first three phases.
The 400-hectare leisure and tourism project has been delayed for at least two years now, but CWP expects at least half of the development of the land area to be completed within three years.
The first three phases involve the construction of a luxury resort, a budget resort and a 100-hectare theme park. Out of the P6-billion budget, P4 billion will be allocated for the theme park development and the rest for the two resorts.
CWP is entering into joint ventures for the development of the project. In the new few months, the company is set to announce the developers that will handle the construction of the theme park.
“I think that if we start with the one, tuloy-tuloy na. We might name one, or two or even three… If we execute the deal with the developer, they will handle everything. They’re very well connected,” Mr. Monozca said, hinting it will be “one of the leading” developers.
A privately held company with majority Filipino ownership, CWP owns two global theme park licenses which are part of the top 10 theme parks worldwide. It also owns two leading scientific hubs and a basketball theme park. The company is the official partner of Asia’s leading marina club and has relationships with six other hotel and resort brands.
For the Palawan project, CWP said eight international family entertainment and luxury-branded resorts and spas will be introduced.
“The good news is we’re joining the international league of global family entertainment brands… Coral World is the first international branded consortium coming into the country,” Mr. Monozca said.
To recall, Viacom International Media Networks discontinued its intellectual property licensing agreement for the Nickelodeon-branded attraction and resort, after the project was opposed by the local community and environmental groups.
Mr. Monozca said the company never changed its plans, noting delays were caused by infrastructure issues and securing government permits.
He clarified that the development is on land, contrary to reports that it will have an underwater theme park. Mr. Monozca said there will be a few two-storey floatation tanks that will have an underwater restaurant in a glass-enclosed space.
“We have an undersea theme to our development but our property is on land,” Mr. Monozca, said, adding the accusations that they will destroy 400 hectares of corals was “silly.”
“They were also telling us they were cutting trees. Were the trees there? It’s kalbo (bald)… It’s a former mining site, chromite. We’re rehabilitating a former mining site,” he said.
The CWP official said its plans were never withdrawn despite attacks from environmental groups such as Greenpeace, but were only hampered by infrastructure issues and delays in obtaining government permits.
Mr. Monozca also clarified the location for the theme park will be in Coron area near the mainland, not the Coron islands where the Tagbanua tribe resides. He declined to give the exact location.
He noted the company’s project has received support from government agencies and local government units.
“They want to be assured that the people of Coron will be employed. They want to be assured that the small businesses will not be removed, I said that’s silly, because we need these operators, we need bancas. Why would we go up against the people,” he added.
CWP is looking at installing “top-class” waste management solutions such as a waste-to-energy system proposed by a European company. Mr. Monozca said he wants whole theme park and resort to use renewables as its energy source.
Although the CWP board members viewed the Philippines as a “risky” investment destination due to the past failures especially on infrastructure development, Mr. Monozca said he wanted to do something in Palawan.
“Palawan has always been number one. The first time I went there, I said that was it,” he said. “This place has to be done the right way because population growth is very very high and if we don’t implement a good masterplan here, it is going to end up like Boracay.”