‘Economy to get big boost from tourism next quarter’

Aya Lowe
Tourism industry to fuel services sector for Q4 GDP

MANILA, Philippines – Economic officials are expecting the tourism industry to give the country’s service sector a major boost in the next quarter.

“We expect to see an increasingly bigger [tourism] share of total GDP growth [in the fourth quarter],” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan at the sidelines of a briefing on the Philippines’ third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth on Wednesday, November 28.

“It’s inclusive. The country has so much potential for that and I would like to see it as a potential strong growth driver,” said Balisacan.

The unexpected 7.1% GDP growth in the third quarter was attributed to a strong growth in the services sector, particularly transport, storage and communication, financial intermediation and real estate, renting and business activities.

The services sector, which accounted for more than half of GDP growth, saw a growth of 7% in the third quarter, a big jump from 5.2% in the third quarter 2011.

While it grew, tourism did not contribute to that growth as much as what was seen in the previous quarter.

Balisacan sees a stronger tourism industry as the country works to attain its goal of attracting 4.6 million tourists in 2012, and 10 million by 2016.

The government is spending heavily to develop key airports and seaports. A number of airport public-private partnerships (PPPs) are also in the pipeline.

Of the projects listed under the PPP beginning 2010, 4 are airports. They are located in Palawan, Bohol, Albay provinces and Cagayan de Oro City, areas which Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim referred to as “high-priority tourism destinations.”

The government has also dedicated P1.64 billion to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 1 which has faced flak after being labeled the world’s worst airport in 2011 by a site that reviews the quality of airports.

In preparation for the influx of tourists, the local hotel industry is also booming.

A report by STR Global, a hospitality consultancy firm published states that Manila is second only to Delhi in India for highest expected hotel room growth with 7,486 new rooms in the pipeline, a growth of 34.8%.

Manila is also looking to attract the casino gaming crowd.

Three of the world’s biggest gaming industry leaders are building billions of dollars worth of casino complexes in the 120-hectare Entertainment City project of state-run gaming regulator Pagcor on Manila Bay.

This new destination along with the revenues being pulled in by the currently established chain of Pagcor casinos and the Philippines’ first large scale casino complex, Resorts World Manila, means the country is establishing a firm foothold as a leading city in the gaming industry.

So much so that Rick Santos chairman and managing partner of CBRE Philippines expects the Philippines to be at par with casino destination Las Vegas in terms of gaming industry revenues.

“In 5 years, the Philippines will challenge Macau and Las Vegas in casino revenues,” he said at a recent press briefing. – Rappler.com

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