HOTELS and pension houses in Cebu City are expected to report occupancy rates from 95 to 100 percent during the Sinulog celebration, said an official from the industry association.

In a phone interview yesterday, Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Marco Protacio said the high occupancy rate is expected to start on Jan. 12 until a day after the Sinulog celebration, or Jan. 18.

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“The Sinulog is a tried and tested (event that draws tourists to Cebu),” Protacio said. Travelers stay for an average of 3.5 nights starting on the Thursday prior to the Sunday grand parade until Monday.

He added that in some cases, a hotel may even overbook guests, “but with the new hotels that opened up, there are new rooms to supply the demand.” In 2009, he recalled, there was a shortage of hotel rooms in Cebu City.

Of HRRAC’s 12 new members in 2009, seven are new hotels.

Busy start

Protacio also said that although the high occupancy rate is more concentrated in hotels and pension houses, the same scenario can also be expected in resorts based in Mactan Island. Most tourists prioritize getting a room in the city, since the resorts are just nearby, and travelers may unwind there after the revelry.

“The first quarter is really a peak period for Cebu,” he said.

This year, Protacio said the industry is “hopeful” that the tourism industry will fare better than in 2009. Data for the previous year, he said, are still not available since the HRRAC board is yet to have its first meeting for this year.

Most hotels, however, are setting conservative forecasts for 2010, especially that there will be a change of adminnistration following elections in May, he said.

Meanwhile, members of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators (Cato) are looking forward to the influx of more visitors one week before the Sinulog.

Connections

“Others who have already arrived in the province during the holiday season have extended their stay in Cebu until they have seen and participated in the Sinulog fest,” said Cato president Zenaida Chua. Chua, also of Worldwide Travel and Tours Inc., said they are anticipating more local visitors and balikbayans to attend the festivities, with more flights coming to and from Cebu.

National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas) Cebu chapter chairperson Jenny Franco said that January is among the peak months for travel and tourism.

Franco, also of Travelvision, pointed out that tourists come to Cebu not primarily because of the Sinulog fest but to escape the winter in their countries.

“They are fortunate to come and join the Sinulog. We have a Sinulog Tour we promote to them and to other tourists staying in hotels,” she said.