Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat remains firm that hotels operating as temporary quarantine facilities cannot operate for staycation.
This, as the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) recently said in a press briefing that their staycation appeal has already been brought up to the tourism department for discussion.
“The medical experts of the Inter-Agency Task Force were very strict in saying that we cannot mix a quarantine facility and a staycation facility. Now, if they really insist, then maybe they can come up with their infectious disease doctors,” Puyat told the media.
On Wednesday, the tourism chief led the inspection at Grand Hyatt Manila in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, which was among the 10 earliest star-rated hotels to have been granted with a Certificate of Authority to Operate for Staycation (CAOS) by the DOT.
Other hotels which are now allowed to operate for staycation in Metro Manila include Nüwa Hotel in City of Dreams, Makati Shangri-La, Okada Manila, Nobu Hotel, Shangri-La at the Fort, Solaire Resort, Edsa Shangri-La, Joy Nostalg Hotels and Suites Manila, and Hyatt Regency.
While some have questioned the approval of the national government’s COVID-19 task force to allow vacations in hotels across the metro, Puyat reiterated that the move is to allow pandemic hit tourism workers return to their jobs.
However, with the existing fear brought by the deadly virus, hotel occupancy rates remain low.
In Grand Hyatt Manila, only 3 percent or 14 out of its 461 total number of rooms have been booked but mostly by long-staying guests.
Only one person booked for an overnight staycation over the weekend.
Prior to COVID-19, the hotel’s occupancy rate reached up to 80 percent on the average.
Despite this, the management did not lay off any of its workers even at the height of the health crisis. Rather, they implemented furlough amid the economic condition.
“We learned a lot of things in the past six months thanks to the efforts of the IATF. Every day is a learning process so we cooperate with all the measures being implemented by the department,” Alfred Ty, Grand Hyatt’s owner, said.
“We are very fortunate to say that we have not laid off not a single person this whole six months. We were able to maintain our workforce,” Gottfried Bogensperger, the hotel’s general manager, added.
The tourism chief believes that even with the COVID-19 threat, the country can restart the economy.
“I’m just so happy na right now. A few months ago while I was talking to our stakeholders, wala talaga. We couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
“Some people are thinking hintayin muna natin ang vaccine. But hindi, we believe we can restart the economy. We can restart tourism as long as minimum health and safety safety protocols are in place,” she concluded.