Hotels appeal to DOT to allow regulated meetings, events to keep industry afloat

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2021 03:43 PM

MANILA -- Following the closure of Makati Shangri-La, hotels are appealing to the Department of Tourism (DOT) to allow them to hold regulated meetings and social events to help the industry survive amid the pandemic.

The Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) recently made a position paper addressed to DOT Undersecretary for Legal and Special Concerns Edwin Enrile, a copy of which was obtained by ABS-CBN News.

In the document, the 150-member hotel group proposed guidelines to adjust rules for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions), socials, and wedding events under the general community quarantine, assuring that they will continue to comply with government measures.

"We are appealing for reconsideration to allow MICE, socials, and wedding events in both quarantine and staycation hotels that [have] established health and safety protocols in place, with the premise that quarantine guests are not allowed to use the same entry/exit points, public area/s, and venues that are being used by MICE and social event guests," said the position paper signed by HSMA director of education Loleth So and and the group's president, Christine Urbanozo-Ibarreta.

According to HSMA, hotels in the country "continue to be in a most difficult situation" amid the pandemic, even if some of them are hosting quarantine guests.

"Note that the occupancy percentage levels may be high for some hotels, but this should not be construed as a good assessment of the situation. Rates extended to this market segment [are] way below the usual rate -- some almost just break even. Therefore, total revenue generated may just be enough to sustain operation cost of the hotels and pay the salaries of our employees," the group said. 

"Staycation hotels, on the other hand, are still at very minimal occupancies at this point and therefore is not enough to keep the hotels afloat. Food and beverage business is not yet 100% operational in most hotels due to operational cost concerns and very soft return on revenue," it added. 

"The hotels need other sources of revenues such as social events and MICE business in order to survive."

HSMA went on to stress that for the past 10 months, hotels have been practicing and implementing strict sanitation protocols, and assured the DOT that these will not change should MICE and other events be permitted. 

Some of the group's recommended guidelines include having separate entrances and elevators to avoid mixing of social attendees and quarantine guests; maximum of 50% capacity in function rooms; adjustments on food and table setups to ensure physical distancing; regular outdoor breaks and sanitation procedures; and proper replacement of indoor air, among others.

The contents of the position paper were discussed by HSMA members with DOT officials in a virtual meeting early this month.

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