A CHINESE firm is keen on investing in the Philippines, following the thawing of previously icy diplomatic ties between Manila and Beijing.
In a news statement, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Bai Fan, CFO of the Beijing Tourism Group Co. Ltd. (BTG), expressed the company’s intent to invest in the Subic Bay free-port zone.
“Subic has many beautiful types of scenery and has a lot of potential to the market, and it is also close to Manila. I think this is the best time to invest in the Philippines, since you have good relationship with China,” Fan said. The DOT did not say, however, in what area of the tourism industry BTG intends to sink in its money.
The new Chinese investment was revealed on the heels of an agreement signed between the DOT and the China National Tourism Administration of Beijing to implement a tourism cooperation program from 2017 to 2022. The agreement includes, among others, a framework to encourage investments in tourism infrastructure, and a scheme to increase tourism traffic in both countries.
BTG is a holding firm based in Beijing that operates hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and other tourism-related enterprises, as well as catering, entertainment, department stores and shopping malls, through several subsidiaries.
According to its web site, the company was founded in 1998 and, since then, has grown to be one of China’s top 10 tourism companies, and ranks among the country’s top 500 firms. A budget hotel subsidiary, the Home Inns Group, is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York.
BTG was among the Chinese companies that met with Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo on Thursday. The DOT chief was part of the official delegation of President Duterte on his first state visit to China. In their meeting, Teo highlighted investment opportunities in the Philippines’s fast-growing tourism sector, especially in the hotel sector. She said the Philippines would also welcome Chinese investments in infrastructure and aviation.
Teo pointed out that the Philippines will need over 100,000 rooms, especially in the four- and five-star categories, as the DOT targets to increase tourist arrivals to 12 million by the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022.
“We encourage you to invest in the Philippines now, as our country and China strengthen our bilateral trade and business relations,” she said, adding that the Philippines “enjoys the highest growth rate in international arrivals in Southeast Asia.”
In the same meeting, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) Chief Operating Officer lawyer Guiller Asido discussed fiscal incentives available to tourism zone investors.
“We are offering a tax holiday for six years to investors, as well as tax exemption on equipment that you will bring in,” he said. Formerly known as the Philippine Tourism Authority, Tieza is a unit of the DOT tasked to “develop, manage and supervise tourism-infrastructure projects in the country,” as well as set up tourism economic zones.
The DOT secretary also encouraged the Chinese investors to consider other destinations in the Philippines, such as Samal Island in Davao; Bataan; Bohol; and Siargao in Surigao del Norte.
The Asean is composed of Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The regional group has a free-trade agreement with China, which was signed in November 2002. (Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo, BusinessMirror)
Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo (center) with members of the Philippine delegation, which includes Tourism Assistant Secretary Rolando Canizal (first from left, standing), and TIEZA’s Guiller Asido (right, seated), with key Chinese investors. (BusinessMirror)
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