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Opportunities in the tourism and wellness sector

Which areas remain underserved?
By Dr. Eduardo Morato |

Q: Tourism has long been a major money-earner for the Philippines. Are there still areas for the aspiring entrepreneur who wants to put up a tourism-related enterprise?

A: Tourism became one of the hallmark programs of the last administration. Tourism is actually the fastest growing industry during the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo. She promoted what we call holiday tourism—the three-day weekends—or holiday economics. Every chance that she got, Arroyo created a holiday.

There is also a growing emphasis on what I call Festival Economics. When I did the study of the Sinulog in Cebu, I discovered that the entire economy generates P10-billion worth from the festival. Starting October, dancers practicing, paying for the uniforms, paying the choreographer, paying the dancers, the food that they eat, all the way to the souvenirs during the event—add all these expenses up, and that’s about P10 billion. That’s why every mayor wants to have a version of Cebu’s Ati-atihan, Davao’s Kadayawan, and Bacolod’s Masskara festival because festivals bring in a lot of money. Fiestas do bring in money into the economy.

Ecotourism is another segment where a lot is happening. For example, in Camarines Sur, there is wakeboarding, white-water rafting, and in Siargao (Surigao) there is surfi ng. Ecotourism is one of the latest draws, and again local authorities are seeing that a way to entice the tourist is to go all the way to attract the adventurous.

There has been rapid growth in health and wellness, with emphasis on medical tourism. When we talk about medical tourism, there are actually four sectors. The first segment is the high-end medical assistance being provided by hospitals like St. Luke’s, Medical City, and Makati Med. The second segment is composed of specialty clinics—this is the domain of aesthetics surgery, and dental and eye clinics. The third are the spas, wellness, and fitness centers.

The fourth segment is actually retirement, or what is called long-term care. I prefer to use the latter, long-term care, which covers the period of a person’s life from retirement to passing away.

Long-term care is about 20 to 30 years, and it can’t be just spent for holidays. Long-term care entails planning and designing houses suitable for retirees, ensuring access to hospitals, and seeing to all their peculiar needs. Consider this: an ordinary tourist stays two or three nights in the Philippines, retirees stay 365 days in a single year. Five thousand retirees times 365 is equivalent to 1 million tourists. And look at the services required by the retirees, from shoe shining, laundry, to health care, to physical therapy, tours, etc. Imagine all the services they need, and therefore more than any other industry, long-term care can generate a lot of employment in all the industries to related to health and wellness.

As entrepreneurs, it is not enough that we see opportunities. To transform these opportunities into viable and sustainable enterprises, one needs to develop a mindset that will allow you, the entrepreneur, to master yourself, the environment and the enterprise. These are learning processes that are embedded in AGSB’s Master in Entrepreneurship and Breakthrough Entrepreneurship courses.

Dr. Eduardo Morato is currently the chairman of ACE Center for Entrepreneurship and Management Education. He also serves as a guru/mentor in the Master in Entrepreneurship course at the Ateneo de Manila Professional Schools.


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