Global hotel firms ‘to draw visitors, drive competition’

LOCAL players in the hotel industry see the continued entry of international hospitality chains here as a sign that Cebu has sustained its position on the global tourism map.

“Their entry lifts Cebu’s image in the global tourism front,” said Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) President Carlo Suarez.

“When tourists Google Cebu and see these international hotel chains, that increases the value of Cebu as a destination,” he said.

Suarez, who is also general manager of Cebu Grand Hotel, said that the association wants more foreign hotel brands in Cebu not because they want their market share to diminish, but because they want to encourage local hotel players to scale up, upgrade and be more competitive.

Good traffic for everyone

“Their entry will surely affect bottom lines but their presence would help address the room supply, generate more jobs, and market Cebu to the world,” he said.

Suarez noted the competition that global hotel brands bring to the country also creates the opportunity for homegrown brands to grow their market.

“While it offers more options for travelers, local players benefit from the tourism traffic these global hotel chains bring in to Cebu,” he explained.

Dusit International, Ascott Limited, and Sheraton by Marriott International Inc. have now entered Cebu and Mactan’s tourism sphere.

Ascott Limited has brought in its newest hotel brand to Cebu named lyf that targets travelers under 35, in partnership with Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI). Ascott’s other brand to open this year is called Citadines, also in partnership with CLI.

Suarez said they want Cebu to fortify its image as a world-class leisure and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) destination.

“The challenge here is how to push the local hotel brands to upgrade services so they won’t be left behind,” he said, noting that the hotel industry is facing a much tougher competitor, AirBnB, which offers cost advantages.

“Homegrown brands need to level up before all these disruptions wipe us out,” he said.

Faith and farm tourism

The HRRAC official reported that the industry expects high revenues this year with the opening of the new Mactan airport terminal in the middle of this year.

They also foresee more airline operators to mount direct flights with the improved connectivity.

“Cebu’s tourism landscape will change this year and we expect all sectors to benefit from this,” said Suarez.

Earlier, newly-appointed Central Visayas Tourism Director Shalimar Hofer Tamano said that the Department of Tourism (DOT) will be pushing for faith, farm and sports tourism this year for Cebu, on top of strengthening the province’s leisure and Mice products.

He also said that Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo will be making a lot of regional visits this year to consult tourism stakeholders.

Tourism accounted for nearly nine percent of the gross domestic product in 2016, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported in June 2017. (KOC)
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