The Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) has projected that recovery of the Cebu tourism industry will start to pick up by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
HRRAC President Carlo Suarez said that hotels and resorts have already resumed operations since the easing of quarantine restrictions but occupancy rates have remained low compared to pre-COVID levels.
However, Suarez noted that weekend occupancy has picked up as locals have started doing staycations, he revealed during the Mugstoria Ta, an online conversation hosted by Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) and aired on OPAV’s Facebook page.
The confidence of HRRAC members on Cebu’s tourism prospects could be seen by the resumption of operation by most of them.
As of end October, at least 90 percent of HRRAC’s member hotels have already resumed operations while about 95 percent of their resorts have since reopened, Suarez said.
He added that the goal right now of the industry is to improve customer confidence in leisurely stay amid the ongoing threat of COVID-19.
“For as long as we follow the minimum health standards, we will overcome the virus. And Cebu is ready to welcome tourists,” Suarez said.
However, he cited the need for opening Cebu to international tourists to get tourism back on track to recovery.
“The industry really hopes that we can welcome international flights again starting next year both for business and leisure to slowly bring back the pre-COVID times,” Suarez said.
Due to travel restrictions from abroad, the tourism industry in Cebu is banking on the domestic market to attract sales.
But, according to Suarez, varying regulations imposed by local government units (LGU) are not encouraging the domestic tourism market to take off.
Suarez called for further relax travel restrictions and requirements for domestic travelers to encourage them to visit local destinations.
“LGU restrictions remain a challenge for us. We can’t push the domestic travel market unless we can slowly ease the restrictions,” he said.
Moving forward, the tourism industry is also expected to lie low from the annual Sinulog Festival, which had been a major tourism draw for Cebu in the past years.
For next year’s celebration, several crowd-drawing activities will not be observed as a preemptive measure against the further spread of COVID-19.
During the same online discussion, Cebu City Tourism Commission Chairperson Jocelyn Pesquera said her office is coming up with exciting alternative activities related to the religious and cultural feast to offset the cancellation of major outdoor events.
“It’s a big challenge for us but our priority really now is to protect the health of our people,” she said.