DOT, DTI probe reports on ‘overpriced’ hotels

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 will verify reports of alleged overpricing by hotels in the city during the Sinulog.

Gelena Asis-Dimpas, DOT 7 chief tourism operations officer, said they will sit down with the parties involved and conduct a preliminary investigation.

“We are currently coordinating with the other agencies in regard to this so that we can see our future move on the call of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella. We are still at the preliminary stage of investigation, and it is only proper that we have baseline data on such concern or issue,” she said. “That’s why we have to sit down with other agencies and entities to start the initial discussions regarding this.”

Asteria Caberte, DTI 7 director, said they have to check the reports since the hotels are also complaining of low occupancy.

“Report is the hotels are concerned about their low occupancy rate this season, losing their share to Airbnb and other similar facilities,” she said.

Caberte said these are conflicting reports.

“We can just verify the report because that (overpricing) runs counter to the reported low occupancy rate. Pricing is market-dictated,” she said.

Labella urged the DTI and the DOT to look into hotel overpricing as the Sinulog nears.

He said the sudden increase in hotel rates might be one of the reasons for their slow booking.

Prior to the mayor’s announcement, Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu vice president Alfred Reyes of Bai Hotel said room rates are based on supply and demand.

“Number one, if you’re going to look at the major airlines, try to book ahead when there’s a holiday. It’s the same banana. The prices go up because there’s a demand. When the demand is not there, the prices go down,” he said.

He said they are losing 30 percent of their sales to Airbnb.

“They (Airbnb) remain unregulated. So the prices are up to the owners because they’re not paying taxes. They are not paying licenses and they don’t renew every year,” he said.

Reyes said there are many affordable hotels during this period, but accommodation rates tend to go up if the establishment is close to or along the parade and procession routes. / JOB

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