GOVT  SEES  P50-BILLION  TOURISM  INVESTMENTS  UNTIL  2010

MANILA, MARCH 30, 2009
(STAR) Some P50 billion worth of tourism investments, mostly hotels and resorts, would be opened in the country this year until 2010 despite the global economic crisis, according to President Arroyo.

Mrs. Arroyo said the tourism and business process outsourcing industries in the Philippines are among the dollar-earning sectors least affected by the global recession.

She said the tourism industry is growing by an average of 10 percent annually in the last several years and that she expects to inaugurate or open new multi-million dollar hotels and resorts almost monthly in the next two years.

Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said more than 20 hotels and resorts are opening this year with a total of 2,089 rooms and a value of P50 billion.

“P50 billion is just the value of the properties but if you look at the total value of the tourism investment that came in from 2005 to 2007, that’s about P550 billion,” Durano told reporters.

He said the figures tallied were those from investors that sought fiscal incentives from the government.

“These are multi-billion development projects. Those with less than a billion (pesos), they don’t go to us (Department of Tourism) because they don’t apply for fiscal incentives so what we have counted are the big tickets because they apply for incentives, but the smaller ones, the boutique developments, they don’t come to us, so we don’t even count them in our number of rooms opening up,” Durano said.

He cited the groundbreaking of the international resort chain Banyan Tree of its project in Palawan last week. From an initial $70 million, the company decided to triple its investments to $240 million.

He estimated that more than 8,000 rooms would be available in the next three years.

He said many tourism development projects in the world, including in the region, are put on hold “but in the Philippines, they’re still very gung-ho because they’ve seen our performance in the past five years.”

“They’ve seen the potential for growth in the field now, so when the markets recover, they are already there to take advantage,” Durano said.

He said: “Despite the adverse developments going on, it’s one of the sectors that is still expanding in terms of investment and employment.”

Mrs. Arroyo said international five-star hotels are also set to open in Metro Manila, Cebu and other key cities in the country including the Marriott, Imperial and Raffles hotels.

She said she will immediately sign the Tourism Bill once it reaches her desk. She said the bill would “codify” what the administration is already doing to strengthen the industry, including extending incentives.

Durano said the tourism industry is one of the biggest job generators in the country. He said for every room, a hotel would employ one worker at the minimum. But for five-star to six-star hotels, it goes as high as five employees per room.

He said this is only in terms of direct investments and not counting workers hired by suppliers of the hotels. – Paolo Romero


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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