With more Filipinos getting vaccinated against COVID-19, will we finally see the comeback of tourism? This is perhaps the same question most local travellers have been longing to hear an answer to for more than a year since the pandemic struck the nation.
While there’s no single response to this, experts from the business industry, particularly hotels, are optimistic to see their resilience efforts paying little by little. The tourism and hospitality sector is, after all, one of those severely affected by the sudden and prolonged safety restrictions brought about by COVID-19; but they’re not easily rattled.
What to expect from local hotels in 2021
According to Philippine hotel sales and marketing leader Rose Libongco, local hotels and resorts are beginning to see the revival of travel and tourism, as restrictions continue to ease up in the country.
“After the limitations posed by the COVID crisis, people are eager for the social and emotional connection denied them by quarantine and isolation,” Libongco said at the online launch of the Virtus Awards 2021, a prestigious award-giving ceremony for the hospitality industry, which she currently heads. “Hotels and resorts are poised to fulfill that need with the staples of leisure, refuge, recreation offered and the focus on well-being, relaxation and comfort.”
During the same event, Century Pacific Food, Inc. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Gregory Banzon, said that the economy will start opening up more in September 2021 as vaccinations accelerate, citing health and safety as the new normal.
Citing data provided by AC Nielsen, he added that by more or less December 2021, 50% to 60% of Filipinos are projected to be fully vaccinated. Consumers, including travellers, are anticipated to still be cautious at first. But with safety protocols still in place, more of them would opt to go out more around this time.
Alongside these developments, Filipinos can look forward to exciting offerings from resorts and hotels in 2021. Apart from equipping hospitality industry workers with relevant knowledge, the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) moved to have these individuals prioritised for vaccination to continue to deliver quality services to essential and non-essential guests. HSMA is the premier organisation of sales and marketing leaders in the Philippine travel and tourism industry.
To inspire Filipinos to travel locally while keeping them informed, the organisation is also spearheading projects with the Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotions Board. One of them is the Go Safe, Go Travel series. Launching in July 2021, this “info-tainment” show would feature the health protocols, tourism campaigns, and other programs of different localities across the country.
In the fourth quarter, the HSMA-led September Online Sale will provide flexible travel and stay opportunities to prospective tourists. Here, they may not only choose from standard room discounts, but also a hotel or resort’s dining and wellness products, including spas, pools, and fitness centers.
The Virtus Awards to culminate a year of resilience
In addition to the above-mentioned projects, the annual Virtus Awards would take place in October 2021. Now in its seventh year, the Virtus Awards aims to recognise the hard work of Philippine hoteliers as COVID-19 rages on.
“The more we creep into new days the more things seem the same. Through it all, the members of HSMA persevere and chase dwindling shares amidst the challenges of higher operating costs to abide by required protocols and diminished revenues due to restricted markets,” added Libongco.
For 2021, the Virtus Awards is introducing a new set of awards in the form of the S.N.A.P. or Survive, Neutralize, Adapt Programs. They would be awarded to hotels and their employees who showed the best virus mitigation practices, recovery strategies, digital transformation undertakings, and sustainability efforts in the past year, among other considerations.
Also to be awarded are the recognitions for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate, Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager, Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader, and Outstanding Marketing Campaign of the Year. In 2020, the Champion of Resilience Awards were also introduced to honour the COVID-19 initiatives of the hospitality industry.
“For the second year now, the Virtus Awards will give due recognition to hotel sales and marketing professionals who make it a point to think out of the box and do what they can to contribute to the growth of their properties amid these most challenging times,” shared HSMA Vice President Benjie Martinez.
The Virtus Awards 2021 ceremony will push through on 26 Oct. As with its earlier editions, it will be a valuable opportunity for Philippine hoteliers to showcase their accomplishments as they lead the way towards the hospitality — as well as tourism — industry’s all-out recovery.
Special thanks to the HSMA and MG Asia Public Relations for inviting TripZilla Philippines to the online media launch of the Virtus Awards 2021. Featured image credit: Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila | Official Website