The hotel chain’s business certainly matters to those of us involved in the tourism industry because its presence in the three main geographical regions of our archipelago, and the business each of these properties generates, can serve as an indicator of the progress of tourism in our country. Any of these three hotels’ occupancy could indicate the status of tourist arrivals in the region it is in, or the statistics of all three hotels put together could mirror the trend of visitors entering the country.
This is why I commend Marco Polo for having had the initiative to host the recent Forum, which they labeled “Business Matters.” They took up the cudgels for the local industry and faced the tourism scenario squarely, to see what else could be done to ensure continued growth in visitor arrivals.
A high-ranking officer of the Department of Tourism (DoT), in the presence of the officers of the chain’s three Philippine hotels, was asked to share with members of the media how the industry is progressing to date and what marketing strategies have been implemented by the agency. During the Q&A, I endeavored to establish the link between the three hotels’ performance vis-à-vis the DoT’s arrival statistics and, sure enough, the hotels’ occupancy rates served as an accurate barometer for such data.
Tourism Undersecretary Bong Bengzon gladly announced that foreign visitors increased by 12.7 percent during the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year, although he admitted a slowing down of arrivals in June. Our country is the only destination in Asia that did not suffer a month-on-month decline in arrivals because South Korea, China, and Japan continue to prop us up, as our top three sources of visitors.
Aside from pushing cruise tourism, medical tourism, and ecotourism, DoT continues to organize familiarization tours for travel agents from potentially rich markets, support key aviation events and develop strong bonds with chartered airline operators.
Domestic connectivity is now in place as more flights have started to operate between major cities in the country. The DOT has also been very strict in implementing quality standards for tourism establishments, to ensure the delivery of world-class products to our visitors. More importantly, the tourism body agrees that empowering local government units (LGU) has made it easier for tourist destinations in the countryside to flourish. The city or town mayor now has the complete responsibility for the sustainable development of local countryside attractions.
Recognizing the value of MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) business, Bengzon announced that DoT would roll out a MICE Road Map before the end of the year. This will make it easy for MICE planners in the country and their foreign counterparts to have all the relevant information they need in staging super-huge events, similar to what Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand handle throughout the year.
It was pointed out that, of all the international chain hotels operating in the country, Marco Polo is the only one that made an “unconventional” investment by initially establishing its presence outside Metro Manila, the opposite of what the other international hotel chains have done. The brand’s first hotel opened in Davao City in 1998 with 245 elegant guest rooms and suites, equipped with Internet and other facilities.
It has a wide array of food and beverage choices—an international buffet at Café Marco, Cantonese delights at Lotus Court, a la carte international cuisine at Polo Bistro, cocktails at The Eagles Bar, and the Pool Lounge, or high tea at the Lobby Lounge, where live music is provided by a group of talented musicians.
The brand’s second hotel—Marco Polo Plaza Cebu—opened in 2006 on Nivel Hills, with breathtaking views of the Queen City of the South with 329 spacious guest rooms and suites, each with Internet access and other facilities.
The much-touted Cebuano hospitality reigns supreme in this hotel, the reason why it continues to increase its number of loyal repeat guests.
The hotel is also known for its many international food festivals throughout the year, giving guests and local residents easy access to Mediterranean, Southeast Asian, Western, Filipino and Spanish cuisine.
The hotel chain’s third property—Marco Polo Ortigas—opened in 2014 and immediately zoomed past its competitors in the neighborhood. It recently earned the coveted 2017 Five-Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide, further enhancing the appeal of its 316 well-designed guest rooms and suites.
Its existence has added to Metro Manila’s list of choice food and beverage destinations: Cucina, the all-day dining restaurant, features live show kitchens; Lung Hin serves traditional and authentic Cantonese cuisine; Café Pronto is the relaxed and friendly coffee venue, while VU’s, the first of its kind sky bar and lounge, is located on the hotel’s topmost 45th floor and provides an awesome view of the Metro Manila skyline.
With Marco Polo’s plethora of user-friendly de luxe facilities and convenient locations, one can easily see why these three top-notch properties have become the choice of guests who go for the finer things in life. Being the preferred choices of local and international visitors is a fitting tribute to the famous Venetian merchant traveler whose name the brand has adopted and, as far as historians are concerned, that is the “business” that matters!
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