Hotel projects swell tourism investments to P364B in ’22

Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror

INVESTMENTS in the tourism industry reached some P364 billion, as hotel developers resumed projects that had been put on hold or slowed due to the pandemic. This was 17.4 percent higher than the 2021 investments, but 39 percent lower than the investments made in prepandemic 2019, which reached about P596.3 billion.

Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed investments in hotels and resorts accounted for some 44 percent of total investments in the tourism industry, or P159.84 billion, up by a slight 3.7 percent from 2021, but 55 percent less than the P363.29 billion poured into the same  assets in 2019.

This was followed by P110.45 billion invested in “other tourism fixed assets,” which the PSA failed to detail. All data provided are in current prices and not adjusted for inflation.

Other investments made into the tourism industry included: P56.04 billion in passenger tourism transport equipment, which was up 26 percent from 2021, but 42 percent less than the P96.48-billion poured into 2019; and P37.56 billion in “Other machinery and equipment specialized for the production of tourism characteristic products,” which was 15.5 percent higher than 2021, but just 11 percent less than the P42.32 billion invested in 2019.

Expanded footprint

Major developers have had to slow down on their hotel construction as pandemic restrictions kept laborers away. But as alert levels eased, developers started announcing their expansion plans for their accommodation establishments. SM Hotels and Conventions Corp., for instance, will be opening Lacson Place Mall of Asia sometime this year. It is also spending P15 billion to build 14 new hotels until 2028. Cebu Landmasters Inc. said it will launch three more hospitality projects this year. The Filinvest Group’s Chroma Hospitality will be opening new hotels in Baguio City and Mactan, Cebu, and expanding its Crimson Resort Mactan property, which had to be closed in December 2022, due to typhoon damage.

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco expressed optimism for the full recovery of the tourism industry, as shown by the recent PSA data on the Philippine Tourism Satellite Accounts, and cited the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) push for more domestic travel.

PSA data showed domestic tourists spent P1.5 trillion in 2022, up 92.3 percent from the P782.6 billion spent in 2021. Last year’s domestic tourism expenditure was 53-percent less than the P3.14 trillion in pre-pandemic 2019. (See, “Food, beverage biggest expenses of PHL tourists in 2022, says PSA,” in the BusinessMirror, June 16, 2023.)

‘Strong, reliable tourism contributor’

“One of our objectives is the maximization of domestic tourism as it has proven a very strong and reliable contributor to the economy. Through the Philippine Experience Program, our regional expos, fairs, and the like, we intend to generate tourism opportunities by giving our travel and tourism stakeholders opportunities to immerse themselves in other destinations and regions and to come up with tour packages that they can dovetail with their offerings,” she said.

During the pandemic, the DOT had initiated programs and projects to encourage domestic travel, while international travel restrictions were in place across the globe. Among the programs included the mass vaccination of tourism frontliners,  and through the Tourism Promotions Board, funded digital apps to monitor the entry of domestic visitors, making available free RT-PCR tests to domestic travelers, among others.

The DOT also had pushed for the reopening of the country’s borders, which helped attract 2.65 million international visitors last year. According to the PSA, these travelers spent P368.67 billion in the economy in 2022, just 38.6-percent less than P600 billion spent in 2019.