Hotel group cuts room rates to spur domestic spending

AS THE impact of the Covid-19 deepens, the Radisson Group of hotels in Visayas and Mindanao have slashed room rates to entice local tourists to still pursue hotel staycation plans and continue spending in tourism products and services.

Marketing officials of Radisson Blu Cebu, Park Inn by Radisson Iloilo, and Park Inn by Radisson Davao announced that their respective properties are giving out special rates to cope with the lowest season so far in the hospitality industry.

Josette Palma, director of sales at Park Inn by Radisson Iloilo, said they are banking on the domestic tourism to bring in revenue to the hotel amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“We are giving out special rates for corporate accounts and special rates for weekends too. This is to entice the market, our clients and travel agents to book in our properties,” said Palma, adding that even before this global health emergency erupted, Radisson properties in the country have been tapping the local market to spur domestic spending.

Park Inn by Radisson Iloilo, is a 199-room property that opened in early 2019. The hotel logs an occupancy of 40 to 50 percent.

The first quarter of the year is usually a healthy quarter for most hospitality players as events such as Sinulog, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and graduation activities are celebrated. A lot of companies also mount big conventions or meetings to kick-off the year.

But this year’s turnout of events is different. After the Chinese New Year, the hoteliers found themselves crossing fingers that the coronavirus will not spread any further than it already did in China. The next thing they saw was the Philippine Government imposing travel restrictions to and from mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong. Taiwan and South Korea followed suit but were immediately lifted.

“We are having difficulty filling in the rooms for now,” said Ruby Nepomuceno, Radisson Blu Cebu director of business development. “But we are doing okay with the food and beverage dining.” Radisson Blu’s occupancy in the first quarter of 2019 hovers between 70 and 80 percent.

Nepomuceno is hopeful that with the room promotions they can see a pick up from the local market.

Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu vice president Alfred Reyes, earlier said they expect occupancy in city hotels and resort in Cebu to drop further in March following the travel restriction from the North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea on Feb. 26. The group saw occupancy to drop 25 percent, particularly for foreign-dependent city properties and 50 percent for resorts in Mactan.

Of the three properties, Park Inn by Radisson Davao had the highest occupancy due to the already strong domestic market. But Flordeliza Gamo, the hotel’s director of sales said the City Government of Davao has canceled several major events of the 83rd Araw ng Davao amid the global Covid-19 outbreak.

“We will still feel the impact of the Covid-19 especially since Araw ng Davao is one of the biggest celebrations we have and it’s also a big tourism drawer,” she said.

DOT assistance

Meanwhile, tourism advocate and chairman emeritus of Network of Independent Travel Agencies Consul Robert Lim Joseph called on the Department of Tourism to help tourism businesses cope with the lingering effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.

While he noted that the Covid-19 is a health concern that the industry has no control of at this time, he urged Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat to ask local government units (LGUs) to temporarily waive some taxes and other fees of tourism establishments and redirect the agency’s marketing funds on domestic tourism promotions, particularly those that the LGUs are promoting.

He also added that the industry stakeholders shouldn’t stop strategizing because, in the event that the Covid-19 is over, countries whose tourism industries suffered a lot will bounce back stronger. (KOC)