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Investing is more fun in the Philippines

By KATHY MORAN, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 28, 2022 5:00 am Updated Apr 28, 2022 11:26 am

One of the initial major events as the Philippines started slowly reopening to the world was hosting the 21st World Travel and Tourism Conference (WTTC) last April 20-22.

The event was hosted by the Philippines, led by the Department of Tourism through Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, who has put the word out to the world that the country is reopened and prepared to receive all visitors after an almost two-year absence due to the pandemic.

Leaders of the global tourism industry praised the Philippines’ successful hosting of the 21st WTTC as it closed with high hopes for an industry battered by two years of the pandemic.

Tourism Secretary Berne Romulo-Puyat

Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat welcomed the delegates at the opening, saying the summit “marks the beginning of a new era” for Philippine tourism.

The time had come to experience just what the Philippine Tourism industry meant in saying it was ready to welcome visitors as “investors” anew by hosting several events on the weekend of April 23 to 25 for all WTTC participants.

There were thematic tours for culinary, sun and beach lovers, as well as cultural, leisure and investment opportunities available for the delegates to choose from.

Investing is more fun

After the conference discussion, a group of WTTC delegates opted to join an investment opportunities tour in the country — with a visit to Central Luzon.

Speakers at the Investments Tour included the movers and shakers of Clark City including deputy coo TPB Atty. Charles James Bautista; SVP-BCDA Joshua Bingcang VP CDC Rynah Ventura; ACOO- Tieza Karen Mae Sarinas-Baydo; DOT R3 - Regional Director Carolina Uy; Asec. DOT - Verna Buensuceso; SBMA - Atty. John Aquino; COO Tieza Mark T. Lapid; PCEO CDC - Manuel R. Gaerlan; CEO Lipad Corp. - Ms. Bi Yong Chungunco; DOT-NCR – Regional Director Sha Batin; GM Clark Marriot Hotel Goeran Soetler and Eleazar E. Ricote

“Our shared hopes and dreams for the future are reflected in the policies we have developed, and the measures we have put in place to plan and realize this sector’s full and complete recovery,” Puyat said. “Our destinations must not be allowed to go back to the old unsustainable ways of the past. Instead, we must move forward, guided by strategic and evidence-based planning and aimed towards building further resilience.”

It is our hope that you have seen this lucrative area as worthy for investments — whether here in Clark or elsewhere in our 7,641 islands.

The tour begins

“Our Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat gave us marching orders to use our hosting to generate interest in investing in the Philippines. For this reason, our investments committee put together an investments portfolio with information on various investment-ready areas in the country’s travel destinations, and also organized this special investments tour of Clark,” said DOT Assistant Secretary Verna Covar-Buencuseco at Terminal 2 of the Clark International Airport.

A 20-hectare master-planned greenfield property of TIEZA inside Clark Special Economic Zone. It is envisioned to be an all-day tourist destination or “tourism bubble” anchored on a premier shopping outlet.

Now that the country’s borders are opening up the Philippines is seeing new opportunities such as The Clark Special Investment Zone at Clark New Port City as a goldmine for potential investors.

“To maximize the investments tour, aside from the summit delegates, we also invited local investors who have been inquiring directly with TIEZA on our investible areas to take part,” added ACOO Karen Sarinas-Baydo.

Tarlac Governor Susan Yap

It was an information-packed morning with discussions on ripe investment opportunities in Tarlac New Port City. “It is a breath of fresh air and relief to be discussing travel, mobility, adventure, exploration, welcoming people and seeing each other,“ said Tarlac Gov. Susan Yap. “I am grateful to DOT Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat for bringing us together and opening the doors to the Philippines. It is a chance for our investors, our tourism council and all the different agencies to feel once again the true Filipino hospitality that has been forced to be quiet for the past two years. The past two years have been gruesome but ang galing ng Pilipinas, because we were one first to open our borders and finally welcome everyone.”

Let the tour begin

LIPAD Corp. CEO Biong Chungco proudly showcased all the airport has to offer and took the delegates on a tour of the new Terminal 2.

New Clark Terminal 2

“We have a lounge for OFWs and our airport is pet-friendly,” she shared. “We want to make this terminal a destination so we are making sure that it will be unique and have all the amenities so travelers will make this airport their entry into the country.”

Taking a drive through the Clark development and available areas for investments — whether leisure, business or building — we were shown the vast lands available and also what already exists in the areas.

The Philippines has a lot to offer in terms of nature and availability of land and opportunities and infrastructure now being built in some zones.

“I know the Philippines has a lot to offer in terms of nature and availability of land and opportunities and infrastructure now being built in some zones,” said Richard Haddad, CEO Jannah Hotels and Resorts. “Now, coming to Clark and moving to the north of Luzon, it is where I believe the future will be and where we are interested to look at.”

Last stop

We ended the tour on a positive note with a visit to New Clark City and the world-class New Clark Athletic Stadium, which was host to the 2019 SEA Games and, during the pandemic, served as a quarantine facility for those needing it.

“This new Clark Terminal 2 looks very useful, very modern,” said Turkish Airlines senior manager Tolga Aykurt. “I will advise our upper management that now is a good time to invest in the Philippines — in Clark Terminal 2.”

“After the SEA Games we were as busy as ever because we were asked to host the fist OFW workers from Wuhan,” said one of our guides. “We have softly opened with a local swim meet, which is host to 2,000 people. There are many events being lined up so that we may return to a ‘new normal.’ Investors who were interested before the pandemic are re-inquiring now as to how they can return and invest in the New Clark City.”

“We are seeing Clark as another potential destination,” said Jan Claude Angco, Starlux Airlines. “It s really a positive experience because seeing Clark Terminal 2, I know it has a lot of opportunities for growth and additional passengers for us.”

The day was almost over and nighttime settled in. It had been a bright day for investments that will reawaken the country.

“We thank you again for being part of this remarkable and positive revival,” said TIEZA COO Mark Lapid. “It is our hope that you have seen this lucrative area as worthy for investments— whether here in Clark or elsewhere in our 7,641 islands. It will definitely be more fun in the Philippines with your investments.”