Thursday, November 15, 2007

Banyan Tree ‘grows’ on Palawan Island

Singapore-based hotel and resort operator Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd. will invest $80 million in building two hotels in Palawan, which are expected to be completed in 2010.

Ho Kwon Ping, the executive chairman of Banyan Tree, said this initial investment is a portion of a major long-term investment plan by Banyan Tree in the Philippines, adding the company may expand to other parts of the country to build similar businesses.

“The plan is to have an integrated chain of hotels and resort in the country as what we did in other countries. We want to have similar business in the Philippines because we believe that this country has the potential to compete not only in the region but also throughout the world,” Ho said during a press conference in Malacañang.

Putting up an integrated chain of hotels will have an overall cost of between $700 million to $800 million, Ho said, adding his company could employ as many as 8,000 Filipinos once an integrated hotel business is put in place.

The company is already running a similar chain of hotels and resorts in Vietnam and Thailand. It has seven hotels in Thailand that directly employ 4,000 people.

Banyan Tree’s plan in the Philippines will be similar to its business in Thailand.

But while the country’s tourism potential is world-class, Ho said there is still a need for the government to invest in building additional infrastructure such as roads, airports and seaports.

“This country already has infrastructure that is way ahead of its Asian neighbors but more investment in this area is needed. Its potential in tourism is superb: it has the excellent food, natural resources, and culture. What you need is additional infrastructure,” he said.

Banyan Tree, which already invested before in the Philippines, considered returning to the country after President Arroyo visited Singapore last year.

Ho said the Department of Tourism assisted them in choosing Palawan as the best location for their business.

The company also operates in India, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Maldives and Seychelles.

Source: The Manila Times By Angelo S. Samonte

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