With the endorsement of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Board of Investments (BOI) recently approved the Php4.1 billion Westin Sonata Palace Hotel project of Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) in Mandaluyong City.
The Westin Manila Sonata Palace Hotel is RLC’s first Marriott International Hotel brand, which is internationally renowned for topnotch facilities and excellent service. The hotel will have 303 rooms, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, and exhibition) facilities, food and beverage venues, recreational spaces, a fitness studio, a full-service spa, and a swimming pool. It will also offer guestrooms equipped with the brand’s signature amenities, including an ergonomic work area.
As part of its commitment to health and safety protocols as well as to sustainable tourism amidst the current global pandemic, Westin Manila Sonata Place Hotel will adhere to the multi-pronged approach of the Marriott chain of hotels to elevate the global cleanliness practices and hospitality norms at hotels. It will be equipped with modern technologies such as heat, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems to provide safe and clean air within the building. It will adopt information technology (IT) solutions for contact tracing, online booking, and contactless payments. No-contact thermal scanners and disinfecting kiosks with sensors will also be installed as part of their measures to reduce COVID-19 infections.
The Westin Manila Sonata Palace Hotel is scheduled to start operations in March 2022 with 400 personnel manning the facility. The project supports DTI’s “buy local” campaign which aims to promote patronage of products and services of domestic enterprises to help them recover from losses during the lockdown. Once operational, it thus is expected to boost income of Food & Beverage suppliers, furniture designers, and makers of high-quality handicrafts in the Philippines.
“Tourism/accommodation is among the few industries to have registered a growth uptick among project approvals this year as new hotels are established with COVID-19 proofing measures to ensure tourists are safe and secure. With the much-needed government support by incentivizing their efforts, we prepare the country’s industry players for the post-pandemic scenario wherein tourism will finally make its considerable presence felt in the economy,” Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said, adding that while domestic tourism is key in the immediate recovery, the industry should also look forward to a resurgence of international tourist arrivals when everything returns to normal.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) figures showed Filipinos took 110 million domestic trips and spent Php3.1 trillion which accounted for 85 percent of total tourism revenues or 10.8 percent of the industry’s 12.7 percent output to the gross domestic product (GDP).
A recent study of Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines (PwC) reveals that majority or 63 percent of the country’s tourism businesses surveyed are optimistic to be back on track in 2021. Also worth
noting is the Philippine hosting of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in the last quarter of 2021, an annual event that gathers some 1,000 participants composed of CEOs, presidents and chairpersons of the largest and most prominent international travel and tourism companies from airlines, hotels and resorts, travel agencies, tour companies, global distribution system, transportation, and allied enterprises; as well as Tourism Ministers and officials from international organizations, such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization. It is expected to make the country as the center for a global exchange of knowledge, culture, investments and tourism.
Prior to the pandemic, tourism was a major contributor to the economy. The Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) in 2019 is estimated at Php 2.48 trillion, 12.7 percent up from 12.3% or Php 2.24 trillion in 2018. Of the total contribution of tourism to GDP in 2019, accommodation services accounted for nearly 10 percent. The industry employed about 5.71 million in 2019, up from 5.36 million in 2018, consisting of workers in passenger transport, accommodations, and food and beverages, among others.