MANILA - Cebu’s hotels are now adopting what they call multi-use model, especially that the COVID-19 situation in the province is under control, and also for the hotel industry to recover faster from the crisis.
It was the group of hotels in Cebu that suggested this kind of arrangement back in January, but was only implemented last week in the province.
The ‘multi-use’ hotels must meet specific guidelines to separate those in quarantine from the regular guests: different entrances and exits, separate elevators, and floors.
Nineteen hotels in Cebu can now carry out multi-use model, while nine others have pending applications.
Hotels are also planning to raise the number of available rooms to 5,000 from 3,900.
“Because of this, we are now very much aggressive in terms of putting rates. If you’re planning to go to Cebu, then we have the option of either staying in the city or the resort," Alfred Reyes, President of Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, said.
The hotel group is also hoping OWWA would pay its members more for the accommodation of returning overseas Filipinos to P2,500 - P3,500 daily, which is just half of pre-pandemic room rates. This despite their added costs such as protective equipment, and providing food and lodging of stay-in employees.
The hotels group pointed out the disparity between Manila and Cebu hotel quarantine rates, with the latter nearly half cheaper.
“Kung kami ang tatanungin (If you'd ask us), we would like to be same as rates as Manila. But who are we to increase right now? Alam ko naghihirap din ang gobyerno (I know government is also in a difficult situation). I know it’s a give-and-take. A little bit of increase is something that is livable by now. But I know there will be another increase in Cebu which is more expensive than Manila,” Reyes said.
Last month, the government’s inter-agency task force for COVID-19 approved to lower the cap on the daily arrival of international inbound travelers in Cebu, to only 300 from 1,500 because of lack of available quarantine facilities. The hotels group said that a higher rate could encourage more owners to operate as a quarantine facility.
“If you would like the hotels to help OWWA with the incoming OFWs, please increase the rates because through this, you will have more arrivals, you will have more rooms available for them. And of course, before, they used to get a lot of complaints. What can you feed for P1,400? Talagang makikita mo yung pagkain, isinusuka ng mga overseas workers (You can see overseas workers dislike the food). So, because of that, they realized it is time for them to improve the rates,” Reyes said.
OWWA is still studying the proposal of the hotel group to increase capacity, given the threat of the more infectious Delta variant.
“The arrival cap is not just the volume of OFWs ng hotels, but also health protocols and situation. We have heard the DOH talk about the Delta variant. So factor rin yun (it's also a factor) to determine the quota. Yung recent pronouncement ng IATF, malinaw naman yun lalo na yung countries na affected by the travel ban na hindi kailangan bilanging sa quota yung mass repatriation in those countries," OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said.
(IATF's recent pronouncement is clear. Countries affected by the travel ban are not included in the quota of mass repatriation from those countries.)
A week ago, OWWA received a fraction of the approved P5.2 billion budget for the accommodation and transportation of OFWs. Cacdac estimated that the budget will sustain the program until September.