October 25, 2021

Travel restrictions are being relaxed, which benefits the PH property market.

According to a property consultancy business, the loosening of travel restrictions, particularly for foreigners, has a favorable impact on the Philippine real estate market.

The return of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), which propelled the expansion of the office space market before the epidemic, is one of the good results of loosening travel restrictions for foreigners, according to David Leechiu, CEO of Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC).

“With travel restrictions relaxing, we expect POGOs to begin reopening offices and growing by the second quarter of 2022,” Leechiu said during a press conference on Thursday.

During the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the POGO sector, which employs largely Chinese nationals, has given up 30 to 40% of office space and has a greater rate of vacancy in residential space.

“Right now, they’re in the stable moat.” But, if they start expanding again, he warned, “they might easily wipe out all these available seats in the market in the next two years,” depending on the rate of expansion.

Leechiu also recalled how POGOs rose from 200,000 square meters (sqm) in 2016 to 1.7 million sqm before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The reintroduction of POGOs to the country, according to Leechiu, will enhance both office and residential buildings.

Apart from POGO, the relaxation of travel limitations is attracting BPO companies to operate in the Philippines.

Many BPO organizations, particularly newcomers, would set up shop in the country, according to him. The majority of these BPO firms are in the healthcare industry and are based in the United States and Europe.

“I believe the future administration will recognize that more PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) zones are needed in Manila.” We continue to meet new brands, ones you may not be familiar with… who are visiting the Philippines for the first time and must stay in Manila,” Leechiu explained.

PEZA has been lobbying to relax the ban on new ecozones in the National Capital Region (NCR) in order to encourage new BPO investors to set up shop in the Philippines.

BPO enterprises that have been in the country for a long period, according to Leechiu, are already expanding in other parts of the country, bringing more jobs and economic activity outside of the NCR. New entrants to the market, on the other hand, will have to set up shop in Metro Manila.

Furthermore, the government’s infrastructure initiatives, particularly airports, will draw more tourists to the country and boost the tourism business, according to Leechiu.

He went on to say that direct flights from other countries to provinces with popular tourist attractions will encourage more foreign visitors to visit the country for vacations.

“Within ten years, I believe tourism will be the Philippines’ largest industry.” It will be bigger than the BPO industry and bigger than international remittances, according to Leechiu.

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