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Hotels, carriers see more Holy Week bookings

In file photo: Mactan Cebu International Airport

HOTELS and resorts in key leisure destinations in the country are expected to enjoy high occupancy rates for the Holy Week.

In a news statement, Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOA) President Arthur M. Lopez said, “I have been receiving feedback from our members that bookings are rising, which is very encouraging.” Holy Week, which culminates on April 17, Easter Sunday, is historically a peak period for domestic travel in the country.

He gave assurances that PHOA members will continue to strictly implement health and safety protocols at their properties. “We are committed to ensuring a safe and enjoyable stay for all our guests. We will therefore ensure adherence to public health standards in the entire customer journey,” he said.

Greater mobility of domestic travelers has been made possible with the easing of interzonal requirements, such that airlines are also reporting higher bookings.

For his part, Alfred M. Reyes, president of the Hotel, Resort & Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc., told the BusinessMirror, “Resorts in Mactan are doing very well. Many of them are averaging 70 percent occupancy on their available rooms.” Most of the guests are still domestic travelers, he added, with majority coming from the National Capital Region.

The story is different for the city hotels, however. Reyes said occupancy rates are running at 20-30 percent only as traditionally, people usually go to the beach on Holy week. “Even residents here can go on day trips to resorts in Mactan,” he noted.

Diony Salme, chairman of the Boracay Foundation Inc., expressed optimism for the prospects of the island’s recovery. “Most of our hotels/resorts are already fully booked for the Holy Week,” he said.

Data from the Malay Municipal Tourism office showed over 50,000 arrivals in Boracay from April 1-9, 2022. Of this number, 48,4981 were domestic travelers, while 984 were foreign tourists. Visitors from Metro Manila accounted for the largest number of domestic visitors at 18,050, while visitors from the United States, at 209,  topped the list of foreign tourists on the island.

More flights to key destinations

Philippines Air Asia spokesman Steve Dailisan said the carrier has observed a “significant uptick in booking behavior since March. This was sustained during the first week of April. In fact, we’ve already increased our flight frequencies to as much as 30 percent to accommodate summer demand.”

Flights to Caticlan have increased to 41 times weekly from 34 times in March, while flights to Kalibo are now 18 times weekly from 11 times. Flights to Cebu grew to 26 times weekly from 21 times in March. Other destinations where the carrier has increased its flight frequencies per week are Iloilo, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Bacolod, Puerto Princesa, Davao, and Cagayan.

He added, “The top destinations with the highest number of travelers include Caticlan (37,881); Tacloban (13,737); Panglao/Tagbilaran (13,303); Cebu (12,778); and Kalibo with 11,754 guests already booked to fly over the upcoming peak travel period.”

Cebu Pacific, the largest domestic carrier in the Philippines, has confirmed the most popular routes this Holy Week are still Cebu and Boracay, according to its spokesperson Carmina Romero.

While the carrier didn’t have to add more flights especially toward this weekend, she said, “We’ve ramped up enough ahead already. We’re almost 100 percent of pre-pandemic capacity since the beginning of April.” The carrier’s Manila-Caticlan route is now being served with 16 flights daily, while its Manila-Cebu is now 15 flights daily, she added.

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, Cebu (including Lapu-Lapu/Mactan) and Boracay ranked as the top two leisure destinations in the country, attracting inbound arrivals (foreign and domestic) at some 4.7 million and 2 million, respectively, according to government data.

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