Holidays, lifting of age restrictions seen to boost occupancy levels

·2 min read

THE accommodation sector expects occupancy levels to pick up as the Christmas season draws near and as they call on the government to lift age restrictions.

Occupancy levels in all hotels tumbled at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some properties were forced to temporarily close business, which mirrored the plunging demand for air travel around the world.

Carlo Suarez, president of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), said from zero occupancy at the height of the pandemic, hotel players now enjoy 30 to 40 percent occupancy for those operating in the city and 70 to 80 percent in Mactan Island on weekends.

“But it (occupancy level) is not consistent. We continue to appeal to the local government units (LGU) to ease the travel restrictions so our domestic market can open up,” he said.

Suarez reiterated that hotels and resorts remain safe destinations and that proper health protocols are being implemented.

“We’re opening up to test the market. And with Christmas coming, more and more people are going out. By strictly following the health protocols, the downward trend of Covid-19 cases will continue. Let’s not be complacent,” he said.

Cebu has been placed under the modified general community quarantine status for almost three months now.

Despite the easing of restrictions, the HRRAC official said hotel operators are still feeling the pinch.

“If you ask industry players, we are having a hard time. Occupancy has not improved during weekdays,” he said.

“We are appealing to the LGU and the government’s Covid-19 task force to ease the age restrictions because Cebu is for family. If we ease up that restriction, we are inviting them,” he added.

At present, only persons aged 15 to 65 years old are allowed to go out of their homes.

“We are looking at the last quarter of 2020 for our domestic market to gear up while another year for the international market,” said Suarez.

Thirty-seven hotel-members of HRRAC have continued to operate while four haven’t reopened yet as of October 2020. Around 14 resorts have likewise resumed operations.

Suarez said LGU policies are crucial in reviving consumer confidence, especially during this time that the sector is experiencing low occupancy levels. (JOB)