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Tourists hitting a hole in one in the Philippines

16th August 2009 Print

After a record year in 2008 for the Philippines, reaching 3.14 million tourists, you wouldn't be on your own in thinking that this must be a pre-economic-crisis trend like so many other nations in and beyond south-east Asia. However, according to the Philippines Department of Tourism, this 7,107 island strong archipelago has bucked the trend and has announced a 51% increase in tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period the year before. The Philippines has also gained the accolade of 'Most Popular Destination in Asia' at the recent World Travel Fair (WTF) after the island of Borocay snatched Best Leisure Destination at last year's event.

Borocay is one of the most frequently visited destinations with 383,813 visitors, it makes up one of the key destinations to have increased tourism by 6 percent in the first half of the year despite a decrease of 6 percent in inbound visitors into East Asia and the Pacific.

"The Tourism department foresees that increased investments in accommodation and transportation as well as development of new facilities and destinations will sustain the growth of the sector and position Philippine tourism for the next level of growth spurts as international markets recover from the global economic downturn", according to the Manila Times. Developments such as Continent Fairways on Borocay, will enhance the offering of the Fairways & Bluewater Resort Golf & Country Club through 56 luxuriously finished and fully furnished hotel suites providing greater accommodation options as well as encouraging foreign investment into the country.

Aparthotels are becoming increasingly popular with visitors seeking the comforts and amenities of established resorts, without making sacrifices for spacious accommodation and the freedom of private cooking facilities. Oriental Spirit Travel & Tours is expecting an 80% occupancy rate for Continent Fairways reflecting the increase in visitor numbers and demand for tourist accommodation in idyllic locations such as Borocay. Not only does this island boast power white beaches and azure blue warm waters, but Continent Fairways will have access to the 18 hole par 72 championship golf course designed by Australian master golfer Graham Marsh which stretches the breadth of the island.

Golf in the Philippines is taken very seriously and attracts players from all over the world. According to the Guinness World Book of Records, the Philippines hosts the 'World's biggest amateur golf tournament', known as the Fil-Am Golf Championship since 1949. The country boasts courses from prestigious international and local tournaments such as the Johnnie Walker Classic, the World Cup, The Asian PGA, and the Philippine Open. The excellent climate and diverse topography allows the golfer year round and varied play.

It is thought that golf was originally introduced to the Philippines by the Irish; engineers working on the Panay railroad played the sport in a bid to bring a piece of home to their tropical workplace. Today though it is not the Irish who are visiting in growing numbers but tourists from new markets such as Russia, China, India and the Middle East. This has been helped by improved air links between the countries. China Eastern Air now flies directly between Shanghai and Cebu twice weekly plus more chartered air services have been laid on from China and Russia to Borocay. The Philippine Department of Tourism reported that tourist arrivals from Russia grew by 36.70 percent, India by 15.36 percent, and China by 9.95 percent.

For investors it isn't just the prospect of increasing and new tourist markets for the Philippines that is enticing them to invest in the property market but the relative stability of the economy. According to the New York Times, the Philippines expects GDP to grow by 2 to 3 percent this year, a rate superior to anything in East Asia other than China and Vietnam, followed by a 4.5 growth for several years the most sustained improvement since the 1970's. Much of this comes from foreign earnings from workers overseas plus the outsourcing of business services such as call centres from more developed western countries. Over recent years interest rates have reduced decreasing the countries debt servicing and making room for money to be spent on crucial infrastructure, health and education improvements.

Properties on the Continent Fairways Resort are available to property investors from as little as £26,000, the deposit required for a studio suite on the resort and the resort is offering guaranteed rentals to buyers of 14% net yield per annum. Alongside the golf course a fully equipped fitness centre, swimming pool, Jacuzzi and spa, clubhouse with bar and cocktail lounge, and restaurant are available to owners and holiday makers on site plus it wouldn't be the award winning Philippines without the pristine white beaches and crystal clear waters in view from the apartments.

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