There is optimism that things will be back to normal, or at least close to it, when The Emerald Bay finally opens its doors to visitors next year. And it’s safe to say developer PH Resorts is still confident that its bet on Mactan Island is going to pay off in spades.
According to Jose Angel Sueiro, PH Resorts Chief Operating Officer, The Emerald Bay is set for a soft launch in December 2021 with the full opening of the project’s first phase tentatively planned for the second quarter of 2022.
The initial phase will see 100 tables and 600 electronic machines open in addition to a full range of resort amenities and 270 hotel rooms. The second phase will add more than 500 hotel rooms added along with meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) space.
PH Resorts had hoped to open the first phase of the resort this year, but ended up delaying things until 2021 so it could raise additional funds via a share offering. With that plan given the green light by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the firm has doubled down on The Emerald Bay.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, PH Resorts President and Chief Executive, Raymundo Martin Escalona, predicted that the Philippines’ gaming industry would return to sound growth in 2021 and 2022 despite the challenges of this year. He cited the community quarantine rules as the main reason gaming facilities struggled in 2020.
The Emerald Bay aims to put Mactan on the map
The opening of The Emerald Bay will be another milestone for Mactan Island as it looks to establish itself as a destination. Terminal 2 at Mactan-Cebu International Airport brought a significant number of visitors to the region pre-COVID-19 and there is hope this trend will continue once borders reopen.
For Mactan Island, the new casino and resort is another reason for people to stay here as opposed to Cebu Island. Local developers with Mactan projects had noticed a surge of interest from overseas buyers who felt the impressive beaches, growing number of attractions and close proximity to the airport made it an ideal location.
While it remains to be seen if the resort can turn Mactan into the destination that rivals neighboring Cebu, both PH Resorts Group and the local government are pushing their chips into the center of the table. A seven-year exclusivity agreement with the City Government of Lapu-Lapu, which kicks in once The Emerald Bay opens, was recently announced.
“Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are confident that the Philippine tourism and gaming industry will be on the road to recovery when Emerald Bay opens,” Sueiro said in a press release to shareholders. “Our location in the largest urbanized area in the Visayas-Mindanao region, close to a major international airport, the seven-year exclusivity and the offering of a high-quality vacation beach experience creates the perfect scenario for a successful integrated resort.”