PH eyed as shopping hub

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The Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) is teaming up with the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to turn the country into a shopping hub in the region by reviving the Philippine Shopping Festival.

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The shopping festival is being held in line with the DOT’s Visit the Philippines 2015 campaign and PRA’s efforts to develop the Philippine retail industry, which contributes about 15 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

PRA president Lorenzo Formoso, who is also chief operations officer of Duty Free Philippines, said the real objective of the Philippine Shopping Festival is to increase awareness of what the country offers in terms of shopping.

“Before we get into the numbers, we have to be top of mind,” he said.

Formoso views the years 2015 and 2016 as a “sweet spot” for the retail industry because more Filipinos will be working, which means more consumer spending.

He said the retail industry can grow even faster than 5 to 8 percent because of the number of malls that are coming up in the next so many years.

“At least 20 new malls in the next couple of years, that is the minimum. They’re putting up malls in the major cities,” he said.

The Philippine Shopping Festival 2015 will be held from October 23 to November 8 in line with the PRA’s Asia Pacific Retailers Convention &Exhibition (APRCE) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) events happening in the country.

It will be a two-week sale where shopping malls and retailers in the Philippines will offer different discounts and promos to entice people to shop.

He said the shopping festival will not only benefit the retail and tourism industries but also contribute to other industries like hotels and transportation, thereby helping boost the economy.

Formoso said APRCE expects to attract to the festival some 2,500 foreign and local retailers and executives on top of the 4,000-plus delegates for the APEC and the coming Christmas season.

He said the event can help to improve tourism although he admitted that tourism numbers did not dramatically exceed the targets as expected because of some problems. Nonetheless, he remains optimistic because tourism spending has increased.

“Before, tourists stayed here for a three-day stay but now it is six days. That is double.

Even if we’re looking at five million [tourists], on spending, if you peg it at the average purchase, it gets to be double because of the number of days spent,” Formoso said.

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