Travel restrictions

Relaxation of travel restrictions to benefit the PH real estate market

(File photo)

MANILA – The easing of travel restrictions, especially for foreigners, is having positive impacts on the Philippine real estate market, a real estate consultancy firm said.

Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC) Managing Director David Leechiu said one of the positive outcomes of easing travel restrictions for foreigners is the return of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), which have stepped up the growth of the office market before the pandemic.

“With the easing of travel restrictions, we expect POGOs to start reopening their offices and start expanding by the second quarter of 2022,” Leechiu said at a press briefing on Thursday.

The POGO sector, where workers are mostly Chinese nationals, has abandoned around 30-40% of offices and a higher vacancy rate in residential spaces amid the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic (Covid-19 ).

“Right now they are in the stability ditch. But when they start to grow again, I think it depends on the rate of expansion, they could easily wipe out all that vacant space in the market over the next couple of years, ”he added.

Leechiu also recalled how POGOs have grown since 2016, when they occupy only 200,000 square meters (m²), to peak at 1.7 million m². before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Leechiu said office and residential buildings would be strengthened with the return of POGOs to the country.

Along with POGO, the easing of travel restrictions is also pushing business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to expand in the Philippines.

He added that many BPO companies, especially newcomers, will be setting up their operations in the country. Most of these BPO companies are in the healthcare industry from the United States and Europe.

“I think the next administration will have to understand that we need more PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) zones in Manila. We keep meeting new brands, names you’ve never heard of before… coming to the Philippines for the first time, and they must be in Manila, ”said Leechiu.

PEZA has been pushing for the lifting of the ban on new ecozones in the National Capital Region (NCR) to encourage new investors in the BPO sector to open their operations in the Philippines.

Leechiu pointed out that BPO companies that have been in the country for a long time are already expanding to other parts of the country, bringing more jobs and economic activity outside of the NCR. However, new market entrants will need to establish their offices in Metro Manila.

Moreover, with the infrastructure projects put in place by the government, especially the airports, it will attract more tourists to the country and boost the tourism market, Leechiu said.

He added that direct flights from overseas to provinces with key tourist destinations will encourage more foreign travelers to visit the country for leisure travel.

“I think tourism will be the biggest industry in the Philippines in 10 years. It will be bigger than the BPO sector, it will be bigger than the overseas remittances, ”Leechiu said. (ANP)


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