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A gem of an investment in the “Pearl of the Orient Seas” – The Philippines

This Southeast Asian island country offers the attractive blend of a tropical climate, low cost of living, thriving economy and good accessibility and is proving to be a destination more popular than ever with a near 4% rise in tourist arrivals reported for Jan – Oct 2008 compared to the previous year (Central Bank of the Philippines).

Named after the 16th century King Philip II of Spain, The Philippines comprises over 7,000 separate islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a population of 90 million and although around 180 languages are spoken across the islands, the two official languages are Filipino and English. Philippine culture is a mix of pre-Hispanic Austronesian (Malayo Polynesian) civilisations, Hispanic and American culture, and to a lesser extent Chinese, Arab, and Indian cultures.

Following a period of marshal law from 1972, the People Power Revolution of 1986 led the country back to the thriving democracy it is today. Turbulence in the late 1980's gave way to stability and economic growth in the 1990's. The Philippines is regarded as a newly industrialised country and now receives substantial contributions from manufacturing and mining sectors as well as remittances from overseas Filipinos. Tourism is hugely important as is, increasingly, outsourcing from international businesses. The Philippines has the potential to become one of the largest economies of the world in the 21st century according to Goldman Sachs' 'Next Eleven' paper.

The Philippines also represents an exciting alternative to traditional property investments in the West, particularly given recent economic developments. According to a recent World Bank report, thanks to various fiscal and other reforms during the last several years The Philippines is in a good position to weather current difficulties. The report cited continued strong performance in private investments and construction, in addition to better than expected crop harvest yields. There was also higher manufacturing output and continued remittance from the 8 million Filipinos who work overseas.

Such economic resilience is likely to lure increasing international investment into the property market. Demand from Europe, the United States and Russia for city centre and resort properties has been brought about thanks to cheaper prices and the requirement from investors to shift their money into strong emerging markets. Savvier investors are looking for investments with the potential for high monthly rental yields and developments such as the Blue Coral Resort and Spa on Mactan Island, which is to be run as a managed resort hotel, increasingly seem a sound investment. Philippine hotel rates are on a par with the US or Europe, whilst entry level purchasing prices for freehold property are much lower. A deposit on a new fully furnished, five star apartment or villa for example can be as low as £2000.

Mactan Island, subject to much developer interest, is located in part of the central Philippine province of Cebu in the Bohol Strait. This beautiful coral island is surrounded by azure water with extensive mangrove forests and offers some of Asia's best diving facilities and lush golf-courses. There are modern shopping centres, fine-dining restaurants and lively entertainment centres.

Thanks to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and its proximity to Cebu, the area's tourism industry has boomed significantly with the local economy feeling the positive effects. Recently, a further £4 million of investment in the airport has been announced, together with the planned addition of another terminal due to the increasing volume of passenger traffic.