Interview: Alan Peter Cayetano
What is the economic impact of hosting the 2019 SEA Games and how will this affect the tourism and hospitality sectors in particular?
ALAN PETER CAYETANO: The opportunity to host the SEA Games was made possible by a series of reforms and investments implemented by the current administration. The purpose of the SEA Games, beyond hosting a major sporting competition, is to relaunch the image of the country and showcase progress made in fields such as infrastructure and second-city development. These developments have already positively impacted the economy and reduced regional economic disparities. The event itself will result in considerable economic gains generated by the 15,000 visiting athletes and officials, plus thousands of journalists.
Promoting sports in the Philippines will have additional indirect economic benefits as international perception of the Philippines changes. Service and customer care are fundamental components of the tourism industry here and the SEA Games are intended to demonstrate the Philippines’ capacity in this regard as visitors experience our values first hand.
To what extent can the SEA Games help establish Clark City as a regional centre for tourism?
CAYETANO: Decongesting Metro Manila is a priority for the government. The fact that Clark City is the main venue for the event, in addition to venues in Subic and Tagaytay, highlights progress made in the creation of new-wave cities. Clark is an attractive city, especially for millennials. We aim to use the SEA Games to showcase the city’s synergy between business and leisure. It offers residents a work-life balance, with considerable amenities for entertainment as well as a wide range of leisure facilities.
The exposure generated by the sporting events can also highlight to international investors the business opportunities that this new and growing urban centre present. These include opportunities in the industries of health, wellness, leisure, business process outsourcing and infrastructure, especially given the push to make the city a centre for transport and business. Additionally, exposure will allow us to leverage the potential of tourism revenues from meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. Lastly, by hosting the SEA Games we aim to show that the Philippines is a safe country with a competent labour pool.
In what areas do you see opportunities for the Philippines to capitalise on the soft-power potential of being a host nation?
CAYETANO: The SEA Games provide a global platform to promote the culture and lifestyle of the Philippines. Sports can send a strong message and the construction of large-scale infrastructure – including sports stadia – is one way to do this. We will also benefit from international exposure through social media and merchandising. From food to transportation, each factor can contribute to increasing the country’s soft power, as well as enhancing the attractiveness of the Philippines as a tourist destination.
How will you ensure local communities receive long-term benefits from the facilities and venues specifically constructed for the SEA Games?
CAYETANO: The last time that major sporting infrastructure was built in the country prior to the SEA Games was in 1934, so there was a clear need for new and updated facilities. After the SEA Games we will establish a network of sports-focused high schools to train athletes from schools across the country. These schools and the students involved would enjoy public grants and, in the case of training camps or events, could be hosted in the facilities constructed for the SEA Games. We hope this will spark a trend of smaller sports centres in each region. The facilities will also host cultural activities in the future, diversifying the activities and experiences available to our visitors.
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