LISTED PH Resorts Group Holdings, Inc. of businessman Dennis A. Uy is expediting the opening of its integrated tourism resort in Cebu to 2021 despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement to the exchange on Thursday, the company said its management is planning the early opening of Emerald Bay by the end of next year, against the original schedule of opening in the second quarter of 2022.

The early opening will involve 122 gaming tables for mass, premium mass and junkets, 600 electronic gaming machines and 270 hotel room bays. Come 2022, the company will increase its gaming capacity and hotel rooms.

The whole Emerald Bay project will have a total of 146 gaming tables, 729 electronic gaming machines, 780 hotel room bays and five villas.

“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we are diligently working on the completion of the first phase of Emerald Bay,” PH Resorts Chief Operating Officer Jose Angel Sueiro was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Our team continues working to ensure to reduce project costs without sacrificing quality. Our focus is getting Emerald Bay to open on time without cutting corners,” he added.

PH Resorts started the construction of Emerald Bay in Mactan Island in December 2017. Mr. Uy said the completion of the project is seen to help the company recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company posted an attributable net loss of P138.27 million in the first quarter, jumping from P59.26 billion a year ago, due to the impact of the pandemic to the tourism industry. It operates Donatela Resort & Sanctuary in Panglao Island, which was temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

“We remain very committed to the long-term growth story of tourism and gaming in the Philippines. While many challenges remain, we are confident of overcoming them as we see some recovery by the time the first phase of Emerald Bay is completed and opened to the public,” Mr. Uy said.

PH Resorts has applied to do a follow-on offering of up to 450 million common shares to raise up to P1.13 billion for the company. The amount will be used to partially fund the construction of Emerald Bay, it said.

The company remains bullish on the project amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which results in limited mobility due to containment efforts of the government. The virus has infected 72,269 and killed 1,843 in the Philippines as of Wednesday.

Shares in PH Resorts at the stock exchange gained seven centavos or 3.06% to P2.36 each on Thursday. — Denise A. Valdez