PROPERTY developer Century Properties Group (CPG) is betting big on tourism, widely deemed as a bright spot in the local economy.

CPG chair and founder Jose Antonio told reporters during the Asia Pacific Real Еstatе Association Summit last week that the Philippines was already riding on the back of a “fantastic” 66 quarters of continued economic growth spurred by domestic demand.

But while the Philippines is no longer the “sick man of Asia,” Antonio said “infrastructure will make or break the future sustainability of our growth.”

“We’re like an 8-year-old person who started in the business. Now, we’ve grown already (to) 15 to 16 years old, but we’re still wearing the clothes of an 8-year-old… So we now have to improve the infrastructure,” Antonio said.

“Tourism is one of the low-lying fruits in the economy today. However, to attract tourists, we have to improve access,” he said.

He said he fully agreed with Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez’s belief that tourism was the “shortest path to inclusive growth” given its multiplier effect on the employment sector.

Antonio noted the Philippines, with its over 100-million population, was attracting only 5.3 million foreign tourists annually while Thailand, a nation of 65 million people, was posting 25 million foreign tourist arrivals.

He said the Philippines should invest more on infrastructure to capture a bigger share of the 600-million Southeast Asian population.

He said CPG would start by next year the development of two major resort projects—one in Batulao, Batangas and the other in San Vicente, Palawan. Both are targeted to break ground by next year.

In Metro Manila, the group will also be making its debut in hotel property development with the 310-key Novotel hotel suites, set to open by 2019 within the Acqua Private Residences in Mandaluyong City.

Some of the units will be owned and sold as preferred shares under the “fractional” ownership scheme.

The first of its kind in the Philippines, the fractional ownership program entitles preferred shareholders to, among others, customized luxury vacation and business stay in the 152 units in Novotel Suites.

For its resort projects, Antonio said CPG would like to serve domestic tourists. He said an internal study showed the country was catering to 40 million domestic tourists.

“All of us are tourists. Whenever we have a long weekend, we travel,” Antonio said. “We would like to serve first the domestic market and hopefully, increased arrivals of foreign tourists will follow.”

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer | October 26, 2015