Philippines still ideal for tourism

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APBC | Business and Tourism opportunities in the Philippines

Despite the declaration of the 60-day Martial Law in Mindanao, Filipinos and Australians should not be afraid of visiting or investing in the Philippines

The Philippines is still a safe place to travel and invest despite the declaration of a 60-day Martial Law in Mindanao. This is according to Norjamin Delos Reyes, Philippine Tourism Attaché in Australia and New Zealand. Delos Reyes was the main guest speaker during the Investment opportunities and Philippine Tourism event organised by the Australia Philippines Business Council (APBC) last 31 May 2017 at Gasolina in South Wharf Promenade.

Chris Centeno, Manager of Philippine Tours, and Ajit Jawanda of Star Flights shared information why the Philippines is a great destination for Australian tourists and investors.

From left: Melba Waugh, Lulu Lorenzo, Norjamin Delos Reyes, Philippine Tourism Attaché in Australia and New Zealand, and Melba Marginson.
From left: Melba Waugh, Lulu Lorenzo, Norjamin Delos Reyes, Philippine Tourism Attaché in Australia and New Zealand, and Melba Marginson.

Tourism and travel advisories

Recently, the Australian government has issued a travel advisory to Australians to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to the Philippines due to the threat of terrorist attack and high level of crime. A specific warning was issued not to travel to central and western Mindanao due to the very high threat of kidnapping, terrorist attack, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups.

Delos Reyes said there has always been a word of caution for going to the Philippines. But the recent imposition is just a precaution to put things in order. “We welcome it. At this time, security is at its best. We just have to keep doing our job. What is happening in the Philippines is a domestic thing. Everything is under control. Foreign investment is growing and tourism is flourishing in that part of Mindanao,” Delos Reyes said.

The Department of Tourism, she said, is promoting Cebu, Palawan, Boracay, and Bohol as the preferred places to visit for Australians. In fact, when the travel advisory was announced for Bohol and Cebu, there were 250 Australians attending a conference. The travel operators were asking her office if they would cancel the event and she said it was really up to them. In the end, the operators decided to push through and Delos Reyes, later on, learned that the Australians enjoyed their stay in the Philippines.

While it cannot be denied that there is now a security threat for visitors in the Mindanao region, APBC Vice President for Victoria Neil Grimes advised Australians to be low key. “It is important how you go to these places. If you go there as a wild, bad, loud, misbehaving Australian or has a six-car convoy for escort, you are going to be a target. You need to behave the right way. Be respectful. Deal with the right people,” he explained noting he won’t advise Australians, at this stage, to go to Marawi. Grimes has been visiting the Philippines for business trips for the last five years.

Investment opportunities

Delos Reyes also discussed tourism investment opportunities in the Philippines noting tourism investment agencies are ready to assist Australian investors. These four agencies are the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, the Board of Investments, and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority. The Philippines, she said, offers attractive incentives to investors like income tax holiday, gross income taxation or tax and duty-free importation.

Filipino and Australian investors are welcomed to venture in the booming Philippine industry sectors such as food processing, construction, metal products, telecommunications, power and infrastructure projects, among other things. The country’s investment priority areas are business process outsourcing, electronics industry, renewable energy, and shipbuilding. There is also a big investment demand for tourism-related services such as ferries and inland transportation.

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