BACOLOD CITY – Mayor Evelio Leonardia is optimistic about the future exchanges with Australia after meeting with acting Australian Ambassador Richard Sisson at the Bacolod City Government Center on Tuesday.
“Ambassador Sisson has shown his keen interest in our city. We take it to mean that we can expect vibrant positive exchanges between Bacolod and Australia in the future,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Australian envoy’s courtesy call was part of the itinerary in his official visit to the city and other places in Negros Occidental this week.
The Philippines is one of the first 12 countries in the world, and one of the first countries in Asia to have diplomatic relations with Australia, Sisson pointed out.
Leonardia said Sisson described Bacolod as a “vibrant city” with a “mix of historic buildings and new infrastructures.”
“I hope that the visit of the Australian ambassador will pave the way for wider cultural, tourism, and business exchanges between Australia and Bacolod,” the mayor added.
Before the two officials discussed similar areas of concern, the ambassador and his party were shown a video about how the city fared before the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, how the pandemic affected the local economy, and how the city is managing the current situation.
Sisson noted that Bacolod continues to gain progress with its enforcement of minimum health protocols against Covid-19 such as the use of face masks and face shields, and observing physical distancing.
The city’s culture and tourism attractions, particularly the world-renowned MassKara Festival, were also shown in the video.
“We are the biggest city in Western Visayas and we create an environment conducive for business investments to rapidly grow,” Leonardia responded when asked by Sisson about the secret of the city’s success.
Leonardia said the city registered only an 8 percent decrease in the total businesses registered with the Business Permits and Licensing Office in 2020.
“We hope, again in 2021, it will not be as bad as some sectors would project it,” the mayor said, adding that once the health crisis is over, Bacolod will be back on track.
During the visit, Sisson was joined by his party composed of first secretary Georgina Harley-Cavanough, security services manager Sandy Labrador, and research officer Amanda Fidelino of the Australian Embassy in Manila. (PNA)