TACLOBAN CITY, July 29 (PNA) — Economic performance of the region has picked up in the first quarter of 2015, largely due to tourist influx and massive reconstruction activities, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office here reported on Tuesday.

NEDA Regional Director Bonifacio Uy said tourist arrivals rose by 22 percent. Likewise, tourist receipts rose from the previous quarter (174 percent) and same period last year (41 percent) rates.

Contributing to the tourism growth early part of 2015 is Pope Francis’ visit to Leyte on January 17 that attracted pilgrims from different parts of the country.

Likewise, reconstruction of government infrastructure and houses damaged by super typhoon Yolanda has picked up on the second half of 2014 and continued until early this year.

Year-on-year, the construction subsector continued to boom, posting a huge increment in its number at 182 percent and value at 193 percent, according to NEDA’s quarterly regional economic situationer.

In terms of agricutlture and fishery, its output as a whole grew by 0.65 percent, owing to improved performances in the crops subsector. However, the fishery subsector alone was relatively slower, posting a 2.27 percent shortfall in production, according to NEDA.

Massive assistance to rice and vegetable producers resulted to ample supply of key food items.

Tax earned by the Bureau of Internal Revenue accelerated to PHP1.4 billion, however Bureau of Customs (BoC) collections posted a significant decline of 39.8 percent.

The poor BoC collection was attributed to zero local sale of by-products of major industries — Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining (PASAR) Corporation as well as the Philippine Phosphate (PhilPhos) Corporation.

In contrast, business name registration for January to March 2015 was recorded at 4,666 already, nearly half of the total target for the year.

“Assisted micro, small and medium enterprises jumped by 53 percent than last year. Similarly, volume and value of mineral production were robust compared to the previous year,” Uy said.

In terms of shipping, both cargo and passenger throughput increased by 26.6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. Similarly, air transport reported a substantial mark-up for passenger and aircraft movement.

Eastern Visayas, tagged as the poorest region in the country in 2014 due to destructive impacts of the 2013 catastrophe, consists of six provinces, one independent city and one highly urbanized city. (PNA)