Domestic tourism bolstered hospitality industry in January

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Domestic tourism bolstered hospitality industry in January
This file photo shows a hotel room.
Pixabay / David Lee

MANILA, Philippines— The hospitality industry of the country is alive and kicking during the first month of 2023, thanks to domestic tourism.

Hotel Sales and Marketing Association president Loleth So last Thursday told reporters that hotel occupancy among its 153-member hotels has surpassed the pre-COVID-19 pandemic numbers, hitting 80% in January 2023. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, occupancy during the same period was only at an estimated 60-70%.

“It’s so much better now,” she said, adding that the average daily rate and revenues are also looking rosy at the moment.

The HSMA president attributed the boom of domestic-driven hotel occupancy to leisure groups and individuals who are going on family vacations and staycations as well as MICE events or Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions.

So, also the director of sales and marketing of Belmont & Savoy Hotel Manila area, said their hotels are booked for conventions until August while Manila Marriott Hotel is already booked for similar conventions until the first part of next year.

“Domestic tourism is very strong right now. Although inbound, I would say is starting to come in, but it's not as strong as pre-pandemic levels but we're hopeful,” she said.

She added that tourists from international destinations could come in by the latter part of the year.

“But the way we see it by year to date, it will definitely be far stronger than [before], it's just that the source is different. Before international conventions, now it’s domestic,” she said.

So also said the shift to digital booking helped hotels attract more local tourists as they can now be reached online.

Due to these developments, So said the hospitality industry has set its eye on tourists within the country.

“I think the pandemic really brought that back where hotels and travel agents started to start looking within their own backyard, which is the domestic market because it's really breathing so much,” the HSMA president said.

Growing domestic tourism

The group is preparing the first revenue-generating event of the year, the 2023 Philippine Tour Operators Association-HSMA Travel seeks to boost domestic travel through their destinations and services, happening in March.

Domestic travelers may also expect the return of its annual September Online Sale (SOS), which was initially established as a response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism and travel industry. They will offer various tour and accommodation sales, as well as discounted culinary and other ancillary offerings.

On Friday, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco on Friday also underscored the “strength of domestic tourism to support the local economy,” where she cited that the Department of Tourism is now pushing for aggressive initiatives to further grow domestic tourism.

“How are we going to do that? That is through close coordination with our mayors, our governors, our district representatives, recognizing that none of these plans and policies will work without the help, the coordination, and collaboration of our local officials,” Frasco said during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 10th Tourist Rest Areain Palawan.

Among the priority initiatives of the DOT is the cross-province tourism circuits that enhance the connectivity of destinations as well as renovation and creation of facilities such as pasalubong centers and comfort rooms.

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