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Hotels hit 60-80% occupancy; full recovery expected in 2024

HOTEL OCCUPANCY levels are currently between 60 and 80%, and are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels starting 2024, an industry executive said.

Benito C. Bengzon, Jr., Executive Director of the Philippine Hotel Owners Association, Inc. (PHOA), added that the industry had been hoping for a boost from tourists making a long weekend of the last days of October, though many travelers had to cancel because of Tropical Storm Paeng.

“Our member hotels have been reporting occupancy rates of about 60% to 80%. But we are still a long way off from pre-pandemic levels. We feel that the return to 2019 levels will only happen in 2024 at the earliest,” Mr. Bengzon said.  

On the long weekend leading up to the Nov. 1 holiday, Mr. Bengzon said,“The reports that we’ve been getting from our member hotels have been varied. There were some that were reporting 90% occupancy and there were some that reporting 50% occupancy. All in all, it could’ve been better. But unfortunately, we were affected by the typhoon…We in the PHOA remain confident that the situation will get better. For sure, 2022 is a better year for us compared to 2021 and 2020.”

“People were really looking forward to the long weekend. This is the first time in a very long time that we’ve had a four-day weekend. Unfortunately, we were affected by the storm and this disrupted travel plans,” he added.

On Wednesday, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), Bicol, the Western Visayas, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were placed under a state of calamity with the issuance of Proclamation No. 84 by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

The state of calamity will be effective for six months unless lifted earlier by Mr. Marcos.

“When I talk about return to 2019 levels, I’m looking at both international traffic, meaning we have to go back to roughly 8.2 million foreign travelers and for domestic traffic, we have to go back to 110 million domestic trips,” Mr. Bengzon said.

Mr. Bengzon said the industry’s performance will be influenced by affordable air fares, flight availability, and the global situation.

“For inbound traffic, we have to make sure that the main tourist markets of the Philippines, particularly South Korea, China, and Japan will go back to normal levels. We have to make sure also that the flights are restored to their operating capacity in 2019,” Mr. Bengzon said.

“For next year… the situation in Ukraine will be a major factor for long-haul travel. Air fares have to be kept to a very manageable level to encourage inbound and domestic travel. While we are optimistic about 2023, we also have to consider that there are many challenges facing us, like the high cost of fuel and inflation,” he added.

Recently, the Tourism department announced that tourist arrivals hit 1.83 million as of Oct. 25, exceeding the previous projection of 1.7 million arrivals. The Philippines opened its borders in February. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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