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Lack of infrastructure limits tourism growth


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By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 18, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Hotel developers and operators are expected to benefit from the expected growth in the Philippine tourism industry over the next decade, but challenges remain in terms of the much-needed infrastructure for an additional influx of tourists, according to a hospitality branding expert.

James Stuart, managing partner of Asia’s branding company for hospitality The Brand Co. and author of the book “Hotel Brand Bites” which is focused on hospital brand management, said in an email that a significant increase in the number and type of tourism properties being opened in the Philippines this year and beyond is expected as the country is seen to be an attractive destination for tourists.

“It is clear that the Philippines is going to be one of the big tourism growth stories in Asia – in fact worldwide – over the next decade. A beautiful environment of over 7,000 islands, some of the friendliest, happiest people in the world and a generally English speaking population. Plus, at the moment, a country that in the main has been left in its wild, natural state,” he said.

While such backdrop offers opportunities for hotel developers and operators, infrastructure is seen as a limiting factor.

Stuart noted that much of the infrastructure needed to provide additional tourists with a positive impression of the Philippines is still in the making.

Even as there are improvements in terms of new roads and airports being built and new hotel brands being developed, there are concerns on whether the growth of supporting infrastructure could keep up with the tourism boom.

“So, I think hotel owners and operators need to put pressure on national and local governments to make infrastructure improvements a priority,” Stuart said.

To take advantage of the expected tourism growth here, he said hotel developers and other firms engaged in the hospitality business would have to work not just on brand building efforts, but also on being distinctly relevant to guests.

“Hotel developers and operators can take advantage of this growth…by conceiving unique, relevant experiences that champion what is distinctively local,” he said.

All stakeholders, he added, have to work together to promote the development of the tourism industry.

“Tourism must be looked at and developed as a cohesive whole, from the manner in which the country is positioned (‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’) right down to the manner in which local environments are being developed and sustained for the benefit of future generations. If everyone pursues their own personal agendas in isolation of the bigger picture, it might create some short-term individual gain, but it won’t be good for the country as a whole long-term,” he said.
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