HOSPITALITY-INDUSTRY professionals are asking the government to loosen its restrictions on events like weddings, noting that hosting such events would help make up for the weak rates which the industry is currently charging.

The Organization of Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) said establishments like hotels need the additional revenue sources to survive the lockdown.

“Occupancy percentage levels may be high for some hotels but this should not be construed as a (positive) situation. Rates extended to this market segment (are) way below the usual rate — some almost just break even,” the group said in a letter to the Tourism department Saturday.

“Total revenue generated may just be enough to sustain operating costs of the hotels and pay the salaries of our employees,” the group said.

The government currently allows restaurants and other venues within hotel premises to host such events, subject to restrictions, though standalone event venues and hotels used as quarantine facilities may not do so. Venues that are allowed to hold events are limited to activities like workshops, seminars, and trade shows up to 30% capacity.

Hotels have been suffering from the loss of business due to the quarantine, with the most prominent casualty so far, the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, which announced a temporarily shutdown beginning this month.

HSMA proposed health and safety guidelines to facilitate the staging of more events, including the segregation of guests in quarantine accommodations from event guests via separate access to public areas, elevators, and entrances.

HSMA also said many venues have large spaces that would allow for physical distancing.

The World Health Organization last year said that organizers of small public gatherings should brief guests about precautionary measures, choose outdoor spaces when possible, minimize crowding by staggering arrivals, and provide hygiene supplies.

“Cancelling a planned event is an option that should always be considered, especially in case of non-essential events or when precautions cannot be implemented or adequately communicated,” it said.

HSMA members represent 150 hotels. — Jenina P. Ibañez