THE Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) has proposed to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) to increase the fees per night to accommodation properties that serve as quarantine hotels for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning Filipinos (ROFs).
HRRAC president Alfred Reyes said Manila-based hotels get P2,500 to 3,000 as fees per night while Cebu-based quarantine hotels charge only P1,400 per night.
“Our proposal is to make it P2,400 for the four- and five-star hotels and P2,000 for three-star hotels and below,” Reyes said.
He said the proposed rates are already inclusive of packed breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The hotel organization is expecting to receive a positive response from Owwa.
“Currently, I am coordinating with Owwa 7,” he said.
Reyes said a hotel can’t survive on a P1,400 fee per night, especially with the mounting bills from water, electricity and other factors.
On May 14, 2021, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport stopped accepting international arrivals for two days due to the lack of available quarantine rooms.
Reyes, in an earlier interview, said some hotels expressed hesitation at accepting ROFs, given the price of Owwa, which is half of the price it pays Manila hotels.
In a separate interview, Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano said increasing the fees per night will encourage more hotel properties in Cebu to reconsider reopening and functioning as quarantine hotels.
“This way we won’t have difficulty encouraging them to operate as quarantine hotels,” said Tamano. “We don’t want higher rates than that of Manila. We just want it to be fair to quarantine hotels that have been helping the government.”
According to Tamano, there are about 40 quarantine hotels in Cebu.
Meanwhile, Tamano said the DOT has recently released an order allowing hotel properties to function as both leisure and quarantine hotels provided that the property will follow certain conditions such as designating separate entry and exit points for leisure and quarantine guests.
“It was the HRRAC, DOT 7 and the regional Covid-19 task force that requested this to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to allow other hotels to operate for multiple use—to accept local guests for leisure and quarantine,” he said.
Also, the DOT on Friday, May 21, proposed to the IATF-MEID the setting up of a “green lane” that will facilitate the entry of foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as part of the national government’s effort to reopen the economy.
The “green lane” will make it easier for fully vaccinated travelers to visit the country for leisure as quarantine rules are being relaxed with the progress of the vaccination worldwide.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat is optimistic about the prospect.
“The Green Lane will pave the way for the reopening of our tourist destinations to leisure travelers who are now fully vaccinated. It will give the jobs back to many of our tourism workers and gradually revive the tourism industry under safe conditions,” she said in a statement.
The IATF-MEID has tasked the DOT and several other government agencies to explore protocols for inbound international travel for fully vaccinated individuals.
Headed by the DOT and the Department of Foreign Affairs, a small working group was formed to evaluate the possibility of implementing “green lanes” and formulate protocols thereof.
The group includes the Bureau of Quarantine under the Department of Health, the Bureau of Immigration under the Department of Justice, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Transportation, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Owwa under the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry.
Several countries have opened up their major destinations to fully vaccinated foreign travelers.
“We must keep pace with our neighbors and the rest of the world in slowly reopening our tourist destinations. We must be ready for the visitors when the whole world is ready to safely travel again,” said Puyat. (JOB, KOC)