The return of balikbayans in time for the holiday season also means jobs for some hotel workers who lost their livelihood at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
The IATF-EID Resolution No. 85 provides that starting Dec. 7, Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and their children, as well as former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children, who are travelling with them, will be allowed entry into the country regardless of age.
Christine Ann Ibarreta, president of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) Philippines, said this will be an opportunity for some hotels to recall their staff back to work, including the chefs, waiters, among others.
Though the hotel industry never ceased operations to aid the national government for the return of Filipino migrant workers and returning Filipinos, some had to lay off their workers or imposed a reduced work arrangement to manage their losses.
“That would mean room nights and food and beverage will have revenues. Buffet restaurants will have more revenues,” Ibarreta told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.
“The hotels will be ready to welcome and serve them to ensure a memorable and safe Christmas and holiday season,” she added.
She said there were already outpouring inquiries from agents and tour operators with regard to accommodation arrangements and some Metro Manila Hotels have been receiving bookings from balikbayans starting Dec. 9.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat had earlier said that allowing entry of balikbayans or former Filipino citizens into the country during the holiday season is a great cause for celebration for millions of families who long for the homecoming of their relatives abroad.
“This not only bodes well for our ailing industry but is good tidings for our kababayans who have been clamoring to be reunited with their loved ones from abroad, especially this yuletide season,” she said.
COVID-19 proof accommodation facilities
Meanwhile, the slow recovery of the hotel sector, as part of the tourism industry, also means upgrades in facilities.
In a recent market report by property consultancy firm Cushman and Wakefield Philippines, it urged hotels to create a secure and COVID-19 proof accommodation facilities.
“With foreign visitor arrivals remaining out of the picture, restarting the hotel sector through domestic tourism could start from creating secure and COVID-proof accommodation facilities,” it said, citing that restoring travel appetite among domestic travelers could take some time even if a number of accommodation establishments have been allowed to restart operations.