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The First Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)
 Budget Hotel Planned for Manila;

The Asean Budget Hotel Will Address the Problems of Expensive Hotel
 Accommodation and Boost Tourism

By Darwin G. Amojelar, The Manila Times, PhilippinesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

August 20, 2010 --FOREIGN and local tourists in the Philippines will soon be paying cheaper hotel accommodation as Southeast Asian businessmen are set to establish the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) budget hotel in Manila. During an exclusive roundtable with reporters and editors of The Manila Times on Thursday, Samson "Samie" Lim, tourism committee chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said that the 100-room budget hotel is expected to operate next year.

The budget hotel concept, according to Lim, was approved by the Asean Business Advisory Council.

Asean groups the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Costing between P100 million and P150 million, the Asean budget hotel will be 51-percent owned by Filipino businessmen, while remaining shares will be distributed equally among investors from Southeast Asian countries.

The cost, Lim said, does not cover land acquisition.

"We are getting private entrepreneurs to get involved in this project. For me, this is a good Asean project," he added.

The lobby of the hotel would have a tropical Asian design, while rooms will have American or European design.

The 16-square meter hotel rooms will charge $50 a night, much cheaper compared to the average $100 to $200 a night in hotels found in the country at present.

Lim said that affordable and comfortable hotel accommodation is still a problem for the Philippines and a key to attracting more foreign tourists.

"The Asean budget hotel will address the problems of expensive hotel accommodation," he added.

"We will target a tourist that is spending between $1,000 and $3,000," Lim said.

Data from the Department of Tourism showed that by the end of 2010, new accommodation facilities totaling 80 will have opened, increasing the number of available rooms in select destinations by 3,743.

Cebu will account for 61 percent, or 2,291 rooms, followed by Metro Manila with 605 rooms and Palawan with 407 rooms.

By 2011 and 2012, additional 3,539 and 1,142 rooms will be available as 57 new accommodation facilities will commence operations.

These new investments are anticipated to generate 17,782 jobs.

Lim said that he was optimistic that the budget hotel concept will boost tourism in the region, particularly the Philippines.

The PCCI executive added that he was expecting tourists arrivals to grow five million over the next six years.

"If we hit five million tourists, we will be able to generate $5 billion in revenues and create more than five million jobs," Lim said.

The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said that employment in the tourism sector represents about 9.5 percent of overall employment.

In the first five months of 2010, tourist volume in the country's major destinations reached 3.65 million for an increase of 5.37 percent compared to the same period in 2009.

The movement of foreign tourists in key destination areas expanded by 12.81 percent compared to the travel of domestic tourists, which posted 2.12-percent growth.

Metro Manila (National Capital Region) is the leading destination with a share of 23.3 percent for 848,518 tourists staying in accommodation facilities.

The East Asia market composed of China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan is the region's major source market, accounting for 41.78 percent of its total number of visitors.

Local residents from other places visiting Metro Manila for tourism-related purposes and staying in hotels and similar facilities registered a share of 35.4 percent.

Lim said that he was also planning to set up a tourism school in Metro Manila and other key tourism destinations to train Filipinos in running hotels, resorts and other tourism-related businesses.

Data from NSCB also showed that enrolment in tourism courses represents less than 1 percent of total enrolment but significant improvements were observed in the last three years.

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To see more of The Manila Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.manilatimes.net.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Manila Times, Philippines

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