PHILIPPINE TOURISM: CREATING EMPLOYMENT WITH EXPANDED INVESTMENTS AND INCREASED TRAVEL MOVEMENT
Room capacity in key tourist destinations for the first quarter of 2009 expanded with the opening of new hotels and resorts that created additional employment in the midst of global economic downturn.
For the period January to March 2009, a total of 1,231 additional rooms were opened. With an aggregate cost of P8.016 Billion, these new investments directly employed 1,286 people.
The opening of the P3.18 Billion Imperial Palace Water Park, Resort and Spa increased the room supply in Cebu by 4% to 14,792. With 616 rooms, this new tourism project provided employment to 780 workers.
The San Remigio Beach Club in the northern part of Cebu has also opened its new facilities during the first quarter. With P8.5 Million in investments, the resort has built a convention facility to capture the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) of both international and domestic markets.
Shangri-la’s Boracay Resort and Spa, a high-end 217-room resort in Boracay Island, opened just in time for the influx of tourists on vacation and long holidays. The resort has initially hired 488 workers to manage its various ranges of product offerings.
Seven locators investing in 28 cluster villas for a total cost of P 761.9 Million in the Amanpulo Tourism Enterprise Zone in Palawan also began their operation during the first quarter.
In Metro Manila, the opening of the Legend International’s Park, Bed and Breakfast Hotel, Eurotel Hotel Branch in Makati, and the expansion of Oakwood Serviced Residences increased the total room supply by 320.
By year-end, some 1,946 people will be directly employed nationwide once the additional 2,315 rooms become operational in the following destinations:
· Metro Manila: Manila Ocean Park (120 rooms), The Picasso Serviced Residences (136 rooms), Newport Marriott Hotel (342 rooms), and Maxims Hotel (178 rooms)
· Cebu: Radisson Hotel (400 rooms)
· Boracay: Crowne Regency (449), Phonex Hotel (130 rooms), Boracay Regency Lagoon (120 rooms), Seven Stones (100 rooms), Grand Water (100 rooms)
· Puerto Princesa: Microtel Inns and Suites (50 rooms)
· Tagaytay: Summer Ridge (108 rooms)
· Albay: Discovery Bay Misibis (82 rooms)
With greater demand for tourism services, the Department of Tourism (DOT) endorsed five development projects worth P6.323 Billion in the first quarter of the year. These initiatives will generate 6,340 employment opportunities for local residents in the said tourist areas.
A US$ 200-Million luxury spa and resort is also set to be developed by Banyan Tree in a 55-hectare property in Diwaran Island of Palawan. This project will generate 8,000 direct and indirect jobs during the planning, construction and operational stages from 2009 to 2012.
In Subic, Harbor Yacht Services (HYS) Philippines will construct a restaurant and resort in a marina facility with an investment package of P 36.1 Million.
Creating New Tourist Products
An 18-hectare manmade lake called Lago del Rey, the biggest in the country, was opened to tourists by the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur. With the cost of P 20 Million, this new tourist product complements the wakeboarding park set up by the LGU in 2005. The facility offers family-oriented activities such as boat ride, fishing, and swimming, among others.
Anguib beach in Sta Ana, Cagayan has started to draw foreign and domestic wind and kite surfing enthusiasts because of its unspoiled natural wealth and wider and bigger reef ideal for the said sports. To promote the area, the DOT and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) have organized a windsurfing exhibition which was highly attended by international and local windsurfers.
With increased demand for nature and wildlife adventure, the DOT and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines have jointly developed birdwatching tours in coordination with tour operators and LGUs in key destinations. The most notable bird watching sites are in Balanga Ciy, Candaba Swamp, Paitan Lake, Pantabangan Dam, Puerto Princesa, Hundred Islands National Park, Subic Bay, Olango Island and Mount Apo.
The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, a leading conservation organization in the United Kingdom will dispatch a fact finding mission in May 2009 to assist the DOT and other agencies in the preservation and promotion of wetlands for wildlife habitat.
A sea kayak tour has also been designed by the DOT and the LGU of Alaminos in the Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan. Managed by the Hundred Islands Eco-Tour Association (HIETA), a community-based organization of out-of-school youth, the package involved a half- and whole-day kayak clinic and tour of the charming islets of the Hundred Islands as well as camping experience in Bolo Beach. The HIETA has been tapped by the DOT and Sun and Sea Kayaks to provide tour services during the Kayak Explore Hundred Island Summer Eco-Challenge in April 2009.
Capping on the popularity of the CamSur Wakeboarding Camp, a P500-Million Wakeboard Park will rise on a 12-hectare area in Silang, Cavite.
Increased Travel in Key Destinations
Tourist arrivals in top destinations of the country during the first quarter of 2009 grew by 10.33% for a total of 1.3 Million.
Cebu attracted the biggest volume of visitors with a share of 32% followed by Boracay (12%), Davao City (11.9%), Camarines Sur (11%), Zambales (7%), and Bohol (5%).
Domestic tourist arrivals to Puerto Princesa City and Coron in Palawan posted a record breaking growth of 392% as more flights were mounted to these destinations from Manila, Cebu, and Caticlan as well as Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. Likewise, local visitors flocked to Camarines Sur for wakeboarding, Surigao del Sur, Sorsogon (Donsol) for whale shark interaction, Zambales (Subic) for recreation, Ilocos Norte and La Union for sightseeing and beach holiday resulting in double digit gains in these destinations.
Overall, the volume of domestic tourists visiting key destinations grew faster at 13% while foreign arrivals recorded a 4% hike in the first quarter.
Cebu was the most frequently visited destination by foreign tourists with 184,790 arrivals followed by Boracay (63,903), Zambales (25,252), Camarines Sur (24,976), and Bohol (24,350).