Domestic travelers drive Bohol hotel’s recovery

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OCCUPANCY rates at South Palms Resort Panglao returned to pre-pandemic levels last year due to the influx of domestic travelers, a company official said.

“I believe the opportunity for domestic travelers has been amazing for the Philippines,” Hope Marie R. Uy, managing director of South Palms Resort, told BusinessWorld in a recent interview.

“Domestic tourism in the Philippines is a massive market and that has supported us very well and moving forward we are confident that they will always be there.”

South Palms Resort achieved a 95% average occupancy rate per month last year, according to Ms. Uy, who will also manage the group’s new project, Panglao Shores.

South Palms Resort and Panglao Shores are under the Alturas group of companies, which also has interests in mall operations, supermarkets, cinemas, food chains and farms.

The group’s resort operator, Panglao Bay Premiere Parks and Resorts Corp., on Thursday launched Panglao Shores, a new estate that is a flagship project under the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

Karen Mae G. Sarinas-Baydo, assistant chief operating officer of TIEZA-Tourism Enterprise Zones Management Sector, said the government agency partnered with the company as it aims to meet the demand for accommodations in Bohol.

“There is a room gap currently. I think we know that a lot of people are now traveling, revenge travel as we know it,” Ms. Sarinas-Baydo said in a recent press launch.

“We want them to be here in Bohol because of the accessibility of the airport — just a direct flight from Manila and five minutes from the airport you’ll be at Panglao beach,” she added.

Aside from resort hotels, the estate will also have 37,000 square meters of commercial space and over 1,000 residential units.

Although currently operating at pre-pandemic levels, Ms. Uy said that the company’s plans of including commercial spaces in the first phase of the project were deferred due to the pandemic.

“We were supposed to have a commercial property as well for phase one but the pandemic gave us a setback for commercial retail spaces,” Ms. Uy said.

Despite the change of plans, Ms. Uy said that they will not be selling the commercial lots to private investors as the company plans to lease the spaces.

“We are a group of companies that have retail spaces in malls, so we are already experts in that field. We will be commercially leasing spaces, we will build the buildings and then we will lease them,” Ms. Uy added.

Meanwhile, the company is eyeing to close deals with developers for the estate’s residential segment.

“We like to partner with developers for the residential segment of the estate,” Ms. Uy said.

At present, the company is eyeing to have half of the lot for vertical developments with the other half for residential.

“A few of them are vertical, a few of them are horizontal. It will really depend on the market. I think for the next month or so we will have a clearer picture of how it’s gonna be,” Ms. Uy added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile