New hotels are rising

Several large hotels are expected to open in 2008 and 2009, which would support the anticipated increase in international visitor arrivals, according to Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano.

“Big hotel constructions will be completed this year and accelerate in 2009,” Durano said in a recent news briefing.

Durano said these include the 240-room Calicoan Island Resorts in Eastern Samar being put up by a group of American investors, the 400-room Sofitel Cebu by SM and Accor, the 217-room Shangri La’s Boracay Resort & Spa, the 616-room Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa in Cebu by Korean investors, the 300-room Bohol Regency Hotel in Panglao, and the third tower of Bellevue Manila Hotel with an additional 198 deluxe rooms.

Other foreign and local companies have also expressed their plans to put up major hotel projects in the country soon.

KHI Manila Property Inc., a joint venture between Ayala Land Inc. and Kingdom Hotel Investments of Dubai , is putting up a luxury hotel complex in Makati , which will include a 300-room Fairmont Hotel, a 30-suite Raffles Hotel and 189 Raffles-branded private residences.

Aside from Sofitel Cebu, SM Investments Corp. has also chosen hotel chain Carlson Hotels Asia Pacific to develop and manage a 350-room property in SM BayCity.

In Tagaytay City , the Hotel Investment Group is completing the expansion of Taal Vista Hotel from 128 rooms to 262 rooms.

In Clark, Jimei Group Inc. is developing a 500-room hotel inside the Fontana Leisure Park .

Manila Ocean Park is also putting up a hotel inside its marine park complex near Rizal Park in Manila.

Megaworld Corp. is building a 350-room Mariott Hotel in its Newport complex while Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ plans a six-star hotel on a 1.2-hectare property in the Bonifacio Global City.

International hotel chains Intercontinental, Banyan Tree of Singapore and Ritz Carlton have also expressed interest in investing in the country.

Durano said the increase in visitor arrivals should be accompanied by new hotel construction to support the continued growth of the tourism sector.

“The continued growth of foreign arrivals places more strain upon the infrastructure of the country. If not properly addressed, this may hinder future growth. To date, hotel occupancy rates in Metro Manila are close to 80 percent,” he said.

International visitor arrivals to the country grew 8.7 percent to 3.092 million in 2007 while tourism receipts surged 41 percent to $4.885 billion. Durano said arrivals are seen to grow by another 10 percent this year.

Despite several security problems, the 18 luxury hotels in Metro Manila posted an average occupancy rate of 82.21 percent in November, higher than the 81.26 percent recorded a year ago.

Peninsula Manila Hotel in Makati City , where a group of renegade soldiers mounted an aborted uprising on November 29, posted an occupancy rate of 78.75 percent during the month, up from just 70 percent a year earlier.

Pan Pacific Manila posted the highest occupancy rate of 94 percent in November, followed by Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila and Manila Hotel with the same occupancy rate of 90 percent each.

In the hotel lingo, a hotel is operating at its full capacity, it if has an occupancy rate of 80 percent or above.

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