Philippines: Resort & Tourism Development Locations

Philippines: Resort & Tourism Development Locations

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John Davenport, Managing Director


On the ground in the Philippines.

“It’s more fun in the Philippines”

The Philippines has had good press in recent years. New efforts to fight corruption, one of the strongest economies in the region, increased credit rating-twice, higher tourism numbers and a peace deal with rebels in the south. They recently launched their new tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”.

Good things all around but what is the actual environment for future tourism and resort development?

Tourism Arrival Statistics

Let us start off by looking at the numbers

The total number of tourists visiting the Philippines in 2012 was a little over 4.2 million, an increase of 9.02% from 2011 according to the Department of Tourism.

Year Visitor Arrivals
2009 3,017,099
2010 3,520,471
2011 3,917,454
2012 4,272,811

Main Inbound Markets

The highest group by far was Koreans followed by Americans who made up 15.27%, Japanese an then Chinese which made up 5.87%.

In comparison Vietnam had a little over 6.8 million in 2012 and Thailand over 22 million, the largest group Chinese in both.

The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands but only about 2000 are inhabited. The range of tourism and development opportunities really depends on the island itself. While some are heavily developed others are just now truly beginning to develop in ways that will attract visitors.

Tourism brings jobs and money and while the red carpet is not actually being rolled for a developer the government both national and local is making attempts to move forward at a faster pace.

Here is a quick snapshot of 6 of the growing tourism islands;


Boracay is the crown jewel of the Philippines and annually receives top rankings by various travel magazines and organizations. It is the Philippines Bali or Phuket. The use of a beach management program has helped it recover from environmental issues of the past and brought it the proper attention it desires.


Cebu-is an island which includes Cebu City, the second largest city in the country, and with major brands like Hilton, Marriott and Shangri-La as well as many small resorts it receives the highest number of visitors annually. Resorts like Plantation Bay and White Sands are giving the large brands a run for their money. As more direct international flights are added to the airport it looks to be a better jumping off point for foreign visitors who can bypass Manila.

Camarines Sur

Camarines Sur in a battle recently with Cebu for top visitors continues to see the start and stop of development as a top location but internal factors may play a role in limiting is ultimate potential.


Palawan is a large island on the western edge of the Philippines. In recent years it has seen a big increase in visitors mostly due to government promotion and having a UNESCO site- world’s longest underground river which is 80km lomg.


Bohol is famous for its chocolate hills (hills that look like chocolate drops) and the world’s smallest monkey. It has many resorts but for various reasons has failed to rise to be a future key location. Hills and monkeys can only carry you so far.


Camotes in the past few years has been spotlighted for its clean, safe environment and white sand beaches. It has the second largest clean water lake in the country and one of the lowest crime rates in SE Asia. Its local government efforts in environmental protection and emergency preparedness have won it UN awards and global attention. As one expiate said after moving there “it reminds me of Key West, Florida in the 60”s before all the condos came”.


Bright Future Ahead

In many ways the key for growth in the tourism market will be the consistent effort of the government to improve overall, the Department of Tourism to continue to promote awareness and local government and developers to understand that environmentally friendly development is the key rather then just another beach front box.

The sun is shinning on the Philippines and the future looks bright if all players in the tourism and development industry come together to create a brand that the world will recognize and appreciate. As there are many islands and many types of resorts this will not be an easy task.


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