Freeman Cebu Business

BPOs, vacationing OFWs to sustain tourism boom

Carlo S. Lorenciana - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The tourism boom in Cebu will continue as the BPO sector, returning overseas Filipino workers and its potential in medical tourism are seen to further drive demand, Colliers International said yesterday.


In its report on Cebu's tourism growth drivers, the Canadian property consultancy firm said Metro Cebu's outsourcing and industrial sectors will continue to boost hotel occupancy in the province.

"This should be complemented by Cebu's thriving medical tourism and 'staycation' markets," Colliers pointed out.

Outsourcing firms continue to locate and expand in Cebu. Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) firms or those that provide higher-value services such as medical coding, software engineering, and finance and accounting are continuously expanding while offshore gaming is emerging as a major pillar of the Cebu office market.

"The executives of outsourcing firms, especially those located within Cebu’s major business districts – Cebu Business Park and IT Park – should propel demand for high-end accommodation facilities in Cebu City and emerging areas such as Mactan and Mandaue," the company said, noting Cebu is a viable market for two and three-star hotels which mainly cater to budget-conscious young employees in the city and their friends and family.

Returning OFWs are also deemed as key tourism spenders.

"The increasing deployment of OFWs from Cebu and nearby island-provinces should result in more migrant workers coming back to the country for a short vacation with their families and should sustain demand for hotels and serviced apartments especially catering to the staycation market," it said.

Cebu's ambition to grow its medical tourists should also help propel visitor arrivals.

"Southeast Asian economies such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and India have long been established as among the world’s largest medical tourism hubs. But Cebu is planning to capture a larger share of the global medical tourism pie by providing quality health services at a fraction of the cost compared to its Southeast Asian peers," it said.

Colliers believes Cebu has the potential to become a major player given the number of medical graduates that the island-province produces per year (about 12% of Metro Cebu’s more than 25,000 graduates annually hold relevant medical degrees) and the relatively cheaper cost of medical services (about 50% to 80% cheaper compared to cost of comparable health services in Europe and North America).

These demand drivers should compel national and local hotel developers to value enhance their properties by bringing in foreign hotel operators or maximizing homegrown hospitality brands.

"Leisure investors in Cebu have been successful in employing these strategies and we see the continued implementation of these plans moving forward," Colliers noted.

Local developers have been partnering with foreign brands to develop hotels and serviced apartments. Foreign branding, Colliers added, is important particularly in the high-end (four and five star) markets.


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