PHILTOA: Most Holy Week destinations now fully booked


HOLY Week is shaping to be the busiest time of the year for the tourism industry with most accommodations and destinations nearly booked to full capacity, thanks in part to the extended holiday until Easter Monday declared by Malacañang.

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) president Fe Abling Yu said, “Navigable destinations such as Baguio, Clark, some parts of Calabarzon, Tagaytay … have been fully booked early on. As we know, any destination with an airfare component, tends to be expensive. But even then, places like Boracay are also full. Even Siargao, Palawan, the likes of El Nido, Coron, are likewise packed!”

She explained, Filipino travelers have already learned to plan their vacations ahead, “so as early as December or January, they have already decided where to go for Holy Week. If there is a flight component to their trip, they already purchased their tickets at the time when the airfare isn’t so expensive.”

Rush bookings will be ‘pricey’

The declaration by Malacañang of regular holidays on April 6 and 7 (Maundy Thursday and Good Friday), as well as April 10 (Day of Valor, which falls on April 9), gives Filipinos a five-day break inclusive of Black Saturday and Easter Sunday, she noted. “This not just benefits the tourists, of course, who are going on vacation to bond with their families, but also the accomodation establishments, as their guests will stay longer with them. So, this is a very good move on the part of the President to declare Monday after Easter Sunday as a holiday as well.”

Abling Yu asserted that if Malacañang continues with this “holiday economics” scheme, the entire tourism industry will benefit —from airlines and accommodations, to travel agencies and tour operators, as well as tour guides and souvenir shops, along with restaurants and tourist transport services, among others. Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, there were 110 million domestic travelers, who contributed  over P3 trillion to the economy.

For those who still haven’t made up their minds where to go for the Holy Week, the veteran tour operator said there are still places and accommodations that may accept bookings, but they won’t be cheap.

“There has to be some acceptance on the part of the client, that the rates, especially with air fare, will be pricey. If the client is willing to pay, it may be tight, but we may still be able to find good destinations and hotels for him.”

P63-M sales generated

Philtoa recently collaborated with the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) for a business-to-business travel exchange among their members on March 28 and 29 at the Manila Marriott Hotel. According to Abling Yu, sales at the two-day travel exchange reached “roughly P63 million” including sales leads. The travel trade fair  gathered 115 travel agencies and tour operators as buyers and  87 sellers from HSMA member-hotels across the country.

She explained that because of the travel exchange, Philtoa members can offer hotel accommodations in the tour packages for their clients, and similarly, HSMA member-hotels will be able to provide their guests tour options at their respective establishment’s travel desks.

“I think the message we really want to bring out to everybody is that we need each other,” said HSMA president Loleth So (Belmont and Savoy Hotel Manila) at the event’s opening. “We cannot function on our own to make tourism go back. We need them, and they need us. So the collaboration sends out a stronger message that if we work together, we can definitely make tourism come back faster and stronger,” she asserted.