Mark Evidente, one of our principals, was interviewed extensively for an article at the Wall Street Journal. In "It's More Fun in the Philippines -- If You Can Stand the Journey" by Trefor Moss, Mark makes the case that problems with airports and government incentives for tourism development stymies tourism growth. Some excerpts:
Last year the archipelago nation drew around 5 million foreigners, according to initial estimates from tourism officials—a record. But that still fell short of the targeted 6.5 million, and the government’s main goal of 10 million foreign visitors in 2016 is looking out of reach.
Meanwhile, neighboring Malaysia and Thailand each pull in five times as many foreign tourists.
“We’re still playing catch-up,” said Mark Evidente, president of Manila-based tourism development consultancy TwoEco Inc. “Ten million [tourists by 2016] was always very ambitious. Even if we’d built the airport capacity to bring in the 10 million, we’d have had nowhere to put them.”
... After years of planning, new airports are now under construction on the popular resort islands of Bohol, Boracay and Cebu. Clark International Airport—a converted U.S. Air Force Base north of Manila—is also being expanded.
But the main bottleneck, Manila itself, which currently handles 32 million passengers a year in a facility designed for 6 million, won’t be fixed soon, with plans for a replacement airport still on the drawing board.
... As with airport expansions, new hotel developments are belatedly catching up with surging demand.
“The shortage of good hotels has historically been a factor in holding back the country’s tourism sector,” said Jose Emmanuel Jalandoni, senior vice president at Ayala Land Inc., one of the Philippines’ biggest property developers.
... Mr. Evidente said more rooms would have been built by now if the government had done more to incentivize the developers of hotels and resorts. He said the government had drawn up plans for 78 special Tourism Development Zones offering tax breaks, but had failed to set them up. “That’s five years lost,” he said.
The full article (paywall) is linked here.
* Photo from wix.com