Hotel operators ‘unexcited’ to resume full capacity
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - October 22, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Hotels in Cebu and other areas under modified general community quarantine and general community quarantine are now allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity but the development is not a cause for celebration for some local operators.

Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Carlo Suarez told The FREEMAN that even if hotels run in full capacity, the problem right now is low market confidence.

“People around the country still find traveling to Cebu expensive and waste of time due to too many varied protocols that need to be complied with. These do not only take additional expenses, but waste of time,” he said.

Suarez, who manages the Grand Hotel, added that “people don’t have extra budget right now to travel.”

Even with Cebu’s transition to the MGCQ, the local governments’ varied standards on travel protocol also add to the disinterest of people to travel to Cebu, he said. Thus, even with gradual opening of domestic flights, and easing of hotel accommodation restrictions, local hotels and resorts here are having difficulties filling up their rooms, much less covering the monthly operational costs.

Former HRRAC president and general manager of Parklane Cebu International Hotel, Cenelyn Maguilimotan, echoed Suarez’ sentiment, saying “I really hope that LGUs will support each other, for the easy access of the destination.”

Manguilimotan said as long as there is no executive order from the LGU, the recent DOT pronouncement does not really give a breather for the accommodation sector, at least in Cebu.

“LGU’s order still prevails in their area of jurisdiction because they are given autonomy,” added Manguilimotan.

At present, Cebu’s accommodation sector, both city hotels and resorts, is registering less than 10 percent occupancy rate.

According to Suarez, some hotels survive only on weekends, and few food and beverage walk-in customers. Despite small event bookings, food deliveries, and controlled dine-in business, hotels have difficulty surviving.

Resorts in Mactan and other towns are only alive during weekends, he added.

DOT signal

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat announced Tuesday that hotels in areas classified under MGCQ and GCQ are now allowed to operate at 100 percent operational capacity.

“The decision to open at 100-percent operational capacity will be subject to the hotel management’s decision and compliance with the safety guidelines,” Puyat said.

The announcement came after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved Resolution No. 79 last Thursday, which replaced the provision that accommodation establishments in areas under GCQ may only operate with a skeleton workforce.

The IATF-EID, however, allowed the DOT to determine the allowable operational capacity for the employees who can be permitted to physically report to work on-site, up to 100 percent for hotels under MGCQ and GCQ areas.

Aside from this, the IATF also amended the guidelines on travel restrictions and approved the easing of interzonal and intrazonal movement. It approved the recommendation to gradually expand the age group allowing individuals aged 15 to 65 to go out of their residence.

Puyat said the DOT shall soon issue the amended guidelines for the expanded operational capacity of hotels including staycation hotels.

She welcomed these new directives which are eyed to boost the revival of domestic tourism.

“Along with this comes the need to ready the whole tourism value chain, which includes the accommodation, transportation and tour operation sectors. Allowing the accommodation sector to operate at full capacity will be most welcomed by tourism’s workforce that has been greatly affected since the community lockdown,” the tourism chief said.

Puyat earlier ordered hotels and other tourism establishments in areas under GCQ to secure a DOT Certificate of Authority to Operate for Staycations before accommodating any guests for that purpose.

“We hope that LGU heads will talk and support each other specially the tourist destinations in order to ease the movement of people because that is the only way to start bouncing up,” Manguilimotan appealed. —Caecent Noot-Magsumbol/JMD (FREEMAN)

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