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THE CITY government has forged partnerships with local government units (LGUs) and stakeholders of the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone to open up more trade and tourism exchanges between the two areas.

City officials, led by Mayor Ronnel Rivera, formally signed on Thursday sisterhood agreements with three cities and a partnership deal with the Clark Development Council (CDC).

Rivera signed separate MOUs for sisterhood with the cities of Mabalacat, Angeles, and San Fernando in Pampanga.
Mabalacat was represented by Mayor Crisostomo Garbo, Angeles by City Councilor Jose Ponce, and San Fernando by City Councilor Benedict Lagman.

Another MOU was forged between the city and the CDC, through its president Noel Manankil.

The General Santos City Tourism Council, Sox or Region 12 Tourism Council, Wow GenSan Association of Travel Agencies, and GenSan Hoteliers Association signed partnership and collaboration agreements with the Alliance of Travels and Tours of Pampanga, Hotels and Restaurants of Pampanga, Greater Clark Visitors Bureau, Pampanga Agents Travel Society and the Bataan, Olongapo, Subic Bay, Zambales Travel Agency Association.

Rivera said the move was an offshoot of the city’s engagements with Clark stakeholders during its investment, trade, and tourism mission in the area last June.

The mission resulted in the drafting of memoranda of understanding (MOU) for various economic partnerships, he said.

The signing ceremony was among the highlights of the 21st Tuna Festival, which formally ended on Thursday.

With the signing of the agreements, the mayor said they will now aggressively push for the opening of direct flights between the city and Clark International Airport.

“That will further boost our exchanges, especially in terms of business and tourism,” Rivera said.

Rene Romero, president of the Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., said the opening of direct flights will help cut down the costs of travel, as well as facilitate faster movement of products between the two areas.

He specifically cited the shipments of tuna products from the city to the markets in Luzon and even abroad.

“We are combining our efforts to come up with flights to and from GenSan very soon,” said Romero, who is part of the visiting delegation from Clark.

He said Clark appears to be a viable “jump-off point” for fresh tuna to Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, the United States and Europe.

Romero added that the demand for tuna products in Pampanga and Luzon has been also increasing, especially for sashimi-grade tuna.(By Richelyn Gubalani)

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