Hotels ‘almost fully booked’ for Sinulog 2024 festivities
ERWIN T. LIM

Hotels ‘almost fully booked’ for Sinulog 2024 festivities

TWO months ahead of the Sinulog Festival celebrations, hotels and other accommodations in Cebu City are already 80 percent booked, as the city anticipates millions of guests to join the festivities.

City Councilor Jocelyn “Joy” Pesquera told SunStar Cebu that hotels and pension houses have been receiving numerous reservations from tourists eager to witness the festival that will be dubbed Sinulog sa Sugbo Philippines on Jan. 21, 2024.

“So far, hotels are 80 percent booked for the Sinulog Festival. Since it is Sinulog, we already expect accommodations to receive early bookings from tourists,” she said last Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.

She said a hotel at the South Road Properties (SRP), where the Sinulog will be staged, has received most of the bookings. However, she did not specify figures.

Pesquera, who chairs the committee on tourism, said she expects two million visitors to witness the Sinulog, double the estimated figure this year.

She anticipates accommodations to be fully booked a week before the Sinulog week, or from Jan. 7 to 12. The councilor said Cebu City has around 70 hotels and pension houses.

Official launch

Meanwhile, Pesquera said the official launch of Sinulog Sa Sugbo Philippines will take place during the New Year’s countdown on Dec. 31 along the Cebu South Coastal Road near the Cube at the SM City Seaside.

She hopes the launch will generate excitement for the upcoming celebrations.

She said there are plans for a fireworks display and to install a launch pad on the Cebu–Cordova Link Expressway to provide a better view for spectators. However, approval from the bridge’s management is still pending.

She said there will be a food strip offering a variety of dishes. She addressed criticisms against the previous countdown event, saying this time there will be merchants.

The venue area for the New Year’s countdown and Sinulog launch can accommodate up to 100,000 people.

Pesquera said parking will be available at the SM City Seaside and the open space near the Bagsakan sa SRP.

Sister cities

Meanwhile, Pesquera expects an influx of international arrivals, particularly from the “sister cities” of Cebu City.

According to an August 2022 report of the Cebu City Public Information Office, the City has a sister-city agreement with Xiamen, China; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Yokohama, Japan; Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands; Yeosu, South Korea; Salinas, California; Chula Vista, California; Seattle, Washington; Guadalajara, Mexico; Kitchener, Ontario; Honolulu, Hawaii; Parramatta, Australia; Sabrosa, Portugal; Izmir, Turkey; Barcelona, Spain; and Thessaloniki, Greece.

In September, the City forged a sister-city agreement with Vladivostok, Russia following Mayor Michael Rama’s visit there to attend a three-day economic forum.

There are plans to move the start of the Sinulog festival program from morning to 3 p.m., which Pesquera opposed.

She said the change might lead to a drop in tourist arrivals, and suggested keeping the current schedule so the public will have the whole day to celebrate.

She said people are accustomed to the Sinulog starting in the morning.

Councilor Phillip Zafra, head of the peace and order committee, said last Nov. 15 that there is a need to adjust the Sinulog schedule for a better spectator experience, citing the discomfort caused by intense heat during last January’s event.

This year, the Sinulog festival kicked off with a mass at 8 a.m. at the SRP, followed by the grand parade at 9 a.m.

Zafra proposed following the example of the Cebu Provincial Government’s Pasigarbo Sa Sugbo, which starts late in the afternoon.

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