Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Safety concerns keep Cebu hotels thriving

Business is booming. The 668-room Bai Hotel in Mandaue City enjoys foreign guests from China, Korea, Japan, Europe and the United States. SUNSTAR FOTO / ALLAN CUIZON

Is Airbnb a threat to the hotel industry?

For officials of the 668-room Bai Hotel Cebu, the hotel industry’s revenues continue to grow even as Airbnb is becoming popular among other types of travelers.

“Cebu is not yet threatened by Airbnb,” said Bai Hotel Cebu’s vice president for operations and general manager Alfred Reyes.

He noted that safety and security issues, which are crucial in any hospitality operation, are a big challenge for AirbnB.

According to Reyes, business travelers and families, specifically, still prefer to stay in facilities where safety and security are assured, among other factors.

Roland Jegge, president of WorldHotels Asia Pacific, reinforced Reyes’ statement, saying that for international business travelers who usually arrive in Cebu at midnight, the hotel’s proposition still attracts them.

Reyes said the absence of an Airbnb office in the Philippines is also a disadvantage. Airbnb, too, does not pay the government taxes, as of the moment.

Airbnb has disrupted the lodging sector of the hospitality industry in recent years.

But while they coexist with hotel players, Reyes said the industry still gets to enjoy high occupancy levels.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has yet to impose an accreditation system for Airbnb operators, saying the industry is still very small.

“It is not yet being prioritized,” said DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

She noted that the Philippines is still new in adapting Airbnb and that it is not yet a major industry in the tourism sector.

In past interviews, Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Carlo Suarez said Airbnb has its own market niche and its entry into the hospitality sector is not a threat to the industry.

However, what is crucial for travelers to consider is their safety and security while availing themselves of the accommodation facilities floated in the Airbnb marketplace.

“We hope these travelers are aware of the safety, security and hygiene,” said Suarez, who is also the general manager of Cebu Grand Hotel.

Bai Hotel Cebu officially opened its facility on Friday, Nov. 23. The four-star hotel is the biggest outside of Manila, with over 600 rooms.

The 23-story hotel offers 12 event venues for business conferences, gala, corporate events and other celebrations. The function and seminar rooms can accommodate up to 200 persons while the ballroom can serve up to 450 guests.

Bai Hotel Cebu is also a member of WorldHotels, a group of independent hotels and resorts. WorldHotels has about 350 hotel members.

Sixty-one percent of Bai Hotel’s guests since its first year of operations are foreigners dominated by Asians like the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese. The hotel also gets a good number of guests from Europe and the United States.

As it formally opened its hotel to the market, Reyes said they are optimistic about getting more guests from all over the world.

Reyes said their partnership with WorldHotels will help them retain existing guests as well as tap into new markets. One market they are eyeing is India.


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