Megaworld—controlled by billionaire Andrew Tan—said Monday it will invest 40 billion pesos ($797 million) to develop an “eco-tourism township” in the southwestern Philippine island of Palawan, betting on a robust recovery in the leisure travel market amid the increasing rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.
The project to be named Paragua Coastown—which will feature hotels, resorts, spas, schools, a shophouse district, a cultural center, a mangrove reserve park and residential developments such as private villas and serviced apartments—will be built across 462 hectares of beach front and inland properties on the shores of San Vicente, known to have the longest stretch of white-sand beaches in the Philippines, Megaworld said in a statement. It will take between 10 to 15 years to complete the entire project, the company said.
“We need to be forward-looking with regard to the tourism sector,” Kevin Tan, chief strategy officer of Megaworld, said in reply to queries from Forbes Asia. “This project allows people to invest early in the rebound.”
Though the travel and tourism sectors have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, Megaworld is seeing early signs of recovery. “Even throughout the pandemic, our sales of various residential and commercial real estate products in our tourism-related townships have done very well,” Tan, eldest son of Megaworld founder Andrew, said. “Reservation sales during the first half of this year jumped 48%, particularly for our projects in Boracay Newcoast, Twin Lakes, and Eastland Heights.”
Paragua Coastown is strategically located a few minutes away from the San Vicente Airport, which hosts regular flights from the Philippine capital of Manila and Clark. Palawan is considered as the Philippines’ last frontier where two UNESCO World Heritage sites—Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River—are located.
“This new township in the beautiful town of San Vincente in Palawan will showcase the best of sustainable tourism and green living,” Tan said. “While we transform it into a world class development, we also commit to the preservation of the island’s biodiversity.”
Megaworld, which was founded by Tan’s father over 30 years ago, has developed 26 masterplanned townships across the Philippines in the past two decades. With a net worth of $2.6 billion, the older Tan, 69, was ranked No. 8 when the list of the Philippines’ 50 Richest was published earlier this month. The son of a factory worker, Tan built his fortune developing large apartment complexes around Manila and now has a business empire that spans food, beverage, gaming and real estate.