Cebu hotel, resort owners raise concerns on online booking sites

ONLINE BOOKING SITES. Hotel, Resort & Restaurant Association of Cebu, Inc. President Carlo Anton Suarez (right) and Vice President Alfred Reyes answer questions from the media on the sidelines of the Association of Government Information Officers forum Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at the Bureau of the Philippines Information Agency-7 in Cebu City. The group raised concerns about online or app-based booking sites that entice foreign visitors to Cebu to stay in unregulated timeshare units instead of booking into hotels and resorts. (ANP photo by John Rey Saavedra)

CEBU CITY – Hotel and resort owners in Cebu are reeling from a drop in bookings due to competing online or mobile app-based booking sites offering lower prices for accommodation or stays homestay.

Alfred Reyes, vice president of the Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants of Cebu, Inc. (HRRACI), claimed that an online site that markets condominium units for lodging or home stays inhabitant generated higher incomes.

“I would say that in terms of revenue, between 30 and 40% was lost. It’s a big loss to our income,” he said on the sidelines of the Government Information Officers Association forum at the Philippine News Agency (PIA) office here.

Lost hotel and resort revenue also means lost government taxes, he said, noting that owners of condominiums offered through online sites or apps don’t pay taxes. at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Reyes, who also runs a large hotel company in Mandaue City, said online sites or apps that compete with hotels and resorts are offering timeshare spaces to foreign nationals abroad despite the lack of regulation. government regarding the safety and security of occupants.

“Who regulates Airbnb? They are rooms but we don’t know if they have fire extinguishers, if their liquefied petroleum gas tanks are properly secured, and everything,” he said.

He suggested that local government units (LGUs) put in place regulatory procedures on condominium units booked online under their respective jurisdictions.

“The challenge we have is that the regulation of hotels at the moment falls under the LGU. So the LGUs should also act accordingly, the BIR should also act accordingly, the fire brigade should also act accordingly and the police should also act accordingly,” he said, saying that there are units condominiums in Cebu which are occupied by Chinese nationals who participate in offshore gambling operations in the Philippines.

Efforts by hotel and resort organizations to assist the Department of Tourism (DOT) with overseas marketing activities would be wasted if visitors chose to book through online sites, Reyes said.

He lamented that hotels and resorts have invested in marketing strategies to boost bookings, but visitors are drawn to online booking sites.

Reyes said that hotel and resort owners nationwide made representations to the DOT after they began to feel the negative impact of the operation of online hotel booking sites five years ago, a he declared.

Carlo Anton Suarez, president of HRRAC, said that although the annual Sinulog festival on January 19 is approaching, hotels in Cebu are still struggling to get reservations.

“Well, it affected the whole market share. We want to promote Cebu but how can we promote Cebu? We need everyone’s help,” Suarez said.

Gelena Asis Dimpas, head of tourism operations at DOT-Central Visayas, said hotel and resort stakeholders have already been notified of the agency’s actions.

She said the DOT Central Office has instructed Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation (TRCRG) to review their concerns.

“This is not a lonely DOT battle and we look forward to comparing other nga niagi na pud ani nga countries (that have gone through this similar phase) and how they resolved it,” she said. . (NAP)

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