Hotel industry group wants bigger role for local gov’t in health management


A HOTEL INDUSTRY professionals group is advocating for improved local government health management as bigger hotels run larger overhead with limited operations during the lockdown.

Christine Ann Ibarreta, president of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association, in phone interviews said that smaller hotels, including some of those run as quarantine facilities for Filipinos returning from abroad, have been able to “survive.”

But bigger hotels have larger expenses, including electricity costs, while occupancy pre-strict lockdown was at around 8%. Staycation hotels are not allowed to operate during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed on Metro Manila and nearby provinces until April 11.

Tourism was one of the hardest hit industries during the lockdown as revenues last year dropped 83% to P81.4 billion after pandemic-related restrictions prompted a significant decline in foreign visitors, the Department of Tourism said.

Ms. Ibarreta said that immunization against COVID-19 should be sped up, and that local governments should improve public health management.

“Start from the local government units in taking care of the citizens in the area (close to hotels),” she said.

When more people have been vaccinated and the public health situation has been managed, she said that the government should consider allowing more airport arrivals and letting quarantine hotels operate their event venues.

Siguro ‘yung arrivals sa airport baka pag-isipan na rin na i-increase ngkasi ngayon 1,500 — at least dagdagan ng 1,000 para maging 2,500 and eventually tumaas.”

(Maybe airport arrivals should be looked into and possibly increased –from the current 1,500 — by at least 1,000 to reach 2,500 and eventually higher.)

The association in February asked the government to loosen its restrictions on events like weddings, noting that hosting such events would help make up for the weak rates the industry was charging.

Makati Shangri-La hotel in January announced that it was temporarily closing down operations as it yielded to financial pressures caused by the lockdown. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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