The Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) Philippines welcomed the move to allow staycations in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas.
On Friday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat confirmed that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved the department’s request to allow staycations even under GCQ as part of the various ways in restarting tourism activities during quarantine.
Christine Ibarreta, HSMA president, told the Manila Bulletin that the decision will stimulate business all over the country and will help start rebuilding tourism. This, as the hotel sector, as part of the tourism industry, is among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“It’s good news for hotels and resorts as the safety and sanitation protocols are in place, we are much ready to welcome guests back,” she said.
She also added that the move is very timely as the group will hold a massive online sale to entice travelers once restrictions have been eased. Around 89-member hotels, accommodation establishments, including famous resorts across the Philippines, are expected to offer up to 70 percent off on their regular rates in the September Online Sale (S.O.S) scheduled from Sept. 15 to 30.
“Thankful to our very hands on DOT Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat. She has been assisting us during this pandemic from opening hotels for quarantine for us to have revenues, looking for jobs via a job fair and hearing out our plea every time we need it,” she added.
Hotels prepare for staycations
Unlike others in the tourism sector, the hotel industry never ceased operations as they have been designated by the national government as temporary quarantine facilities for returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and returning Overseas Filipinos (OFs).
Some accommodation establishments also serve as temporary billeting areas for frontline workers such as government staff, medical professionals, employees from the business process outsource companies, among others.
But to ensure safety for all, Ibarreta said there will be separate floors or sections for staycations given the situation.
In a separate interview with the Manila Bulletin, Tet Romualdo, general manager of 4-star hotel The Linden Suites located at Pasig City’s business center, said the hotel has launched their clean campaign called “Beyond Spotless”, where the management has tightened the guidelines and protocols to ensure a clean and safe environment for all guests.
“Aside from the standard precautions like non-contact temperature check and regular sanitation, we have also implemented contactless check-in/out, use of clean sticker door seal, use of barrier precaution, and use of misting and UV lights in guest rooms for thorough cleaning,” she said.
“On top of this, we provided house use to all our operation staff to minimize the risk of virus transmission aside from facilitating regular antigen testing,” she added.
As different types of guests have different requirements, Romualdo said they have also assigned dedicated floors for long staying guests and staycation markets and dedicated floors for ROFs and OFWs markets.
“We have also limited the number of people permitted in common areas and we have safe distance markers where necessary, for instance where it is natural for hotel guests to assemble,” she said.
With the staycation market, the hotel has initially allocated 50 rooms of different room types, including deluxe room (40 sqm), one-bedroom suite (70 sqm), two-bedroom suite (113 sqm), and three-bedroom suite (122 sqm).
Staycation guidelines out soon
In a letter sent by Puyat to Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) president Jose Clemente III dated Sept. 11, she said the DOT is currently updating the staycation guidelines earlier drafted by the organization to consider additional comments and suggestions of the IATF-EID.
“Our Memorandum Circular on Staycations Under GCQ will soon be out for circulation to stakeholders,” she said.
But as defined in the draft guidelines, Puyat said a staycation shall involve a minimum overnight stay for leisure purposes in a DOT-accredited accommodation enterprise located in proximity with one’s residence.
For instance, residents of the National Capital Region can “staycation” within NCR but are subject to the requirements of the concerned local government unit.