A year after attracting over 480,000 Korean visitors to the Philippines, Korea has remained the country's largest tourist market in Asia with an estimated target of 600,000 arrivals by December, and is today's leading investor of multi-billion peso worth of tourism-related projects.
Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano announced during a press conference held recently in Mandaluyong City that the Koreans have invested heavily in golf and resort infrastructure projects in various tourist destinations across the country.
Among these are the newly-completed 5-star Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa worth P3 billion in Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu; a $ 10-million Korean joint venture investment in an 18-hole championship golf course at the Royal Garden Golf and Country Club in Angeles City, Pampanga; and huge capital outlay in Mimosa Leisure Estate in Clark, Pampanga and Seraph Hotel, the first Korean hotel in Boracay. A Korean company is also planning to put up a residential property for its retirees inside the Subic Freeport Zone in Olongapo.
Durano said these Korean investments are part of 22 other varied projects amounting to R3.9 billion that the Department of Tourism (DoT) has endorsed for grant of incentives and clearances in 2005.
"The Koreans are not only our tourists, they are also our biggest investors. They are the ones playing golf in Zamboanga. They have put up a golf academy in Cagayan de Oro, and a spa in Mt. Pinatubo. They come here to learn English as well," he exclaimed.
The tourism chief hailed the new flow of investments which would somehow help the country solve its problem of limited room capacity in its choice destinations.
"For Boracay and Cebu alone, we are short of 5,000 hotel rooms. When these expansions and new infrastructures are completed after two years, it will only provide 2,000 hotel rooms in the major destinations," he said.
To encourage more investments for tourism infrastructure, he explained that the government has began to undertake several projects that will give tourists easier and more convenient access to destinations particularly in Central Philippines which attracts more than half of foreign tourists in the country. These include the …