Ayala Chairman & CEO at the ASEAN Tourism Summit
Thoughts from Ayala Corporation chairman and CEO, Jaime Zobel de Ayala at the ASEAN Tourism Summit organized by Go Negosyo at the World Trade Center, May 2. Mr. Zobel joined the panel on “Opening Up Land, Sea, and Sky for Global Tourism”. The discussion focused on how to make the Philippine tourism industry more competitive and how could ASEAN countries work together to promote the region as a top tourist destination.
Impact of tourism in the Philippines
“The impact of tourism is profound in the Philippines –
- US$27.3 B direct contribution to Philippine GDP (or 8.7% of total GDP) in 2017. Forecast to grow to US$ 50.5 B or 9.1% of GDP by 2028.
- Total contribution to GDP in 2017 was estimated at US$66.3 B (or 21% of GDP). Forecast to almost double to US$123.6 B (22.4% of GDP) by 2028.
- Total direct and indirect jobs amounted to 7.8 M in 2017 or 19.2% of total employment in the Philippines. Expected to rise to 10.5 M jobs or 19.9% of total in 2028.
- Imagine the impact to the economy and to people’s lives if we could raise the current revenue per employee in Travel and Tourism from approximately US$1,575 per direct worker (5.3 M direct workers) to a level closer to the BPO industry’s level of US$20,416 per direct worker. The economy would absolutely [prosper].”
Ayala’s investment in tourism and its philosophy
“Through Ayala Land, we have invested P28 billion in tourism since 2009 and we project an additional investment of P32 billion up to 2022 to expand our portfolio of hotels and resorts.
Our investments are guided from the planning stage to operations by our philosophy of sustainable and responsible tourism which has 3 main pillars: 1) environment 2) socio-cultural or community and 3) economic.
We make progress towards this goal by:
- Partnering with LGU. Tourism ultimately benefits local communities. We establish partnerships with local government units across the country, who have embraced our developments and recognized a shared vision towards providing for the needs of their communities.
- Creating shared value . We are committed to seeing local communities that host our projects grow with us and jointly create value . . We provide employment (as much as 70-90% of jobs are local) as well as commerce, where we try as much as possible to source goods and services from the local community.
- Highlighting Filipino products and architecture. We are great believers in Filipino Design and do as much as we can to highlight what is Filipino. We buy from local manufacturers who create export-grade Philippine products like furniture from Cebu which is installed in almost all our hotels, or interior accents bought from local entrepreneurs in the province or region. . . We have also focused on the use of endemic landscaping and locally sourced materials to showcase local biodiversity and talent.
- Building scale. We like to focus on large-scale tourism estates because they can create greater positive social and economic impact like jobs created and the infrastructure. Scale also enables us to analyze and plan on the basis of a site’s natural resources as well as its cultural attributes.
One example of this is Lio in El Nido. At Lio, you’ll see an uninterrupted 4-kilometer stretch of beach, preserved wetlands for the protection of endemic flora and fauna, native landscaping, and pedestrian infrastructure like footbridges which were built without impeding root systems of trees. We also built a number of boutique resorts, a retail center, an airport, an artists’ village, and other facilities. And yet, as you approach from the sea, none of that is visible; its natural beauty is preserved.
- Building support systems. Because of our archipelagic nature, air access is so important for the development of new destinations, particularly island destinations, we opened our boutique airline called AirSwift . . . As the market develops, AirSwift can also expand or other airlines can enter to service these markets as we have seen in Coron. “
Support for DoT agenda
“We support the tourism agenda of Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat that is based on, among other things, environmental protection and sustainability. We support the creation of appropriate governance structures to ensure that there is proper planning and project execution in our best tourism sites as well as strong visitor impact management, strict adherence to the carrying capacity, the limits of acceptable change, and degree of impact that any single destination can take.”