ROBINSONS Hotels and Resorts (RHR), the hospitality arm of Robinsons Land Corp., expects a robust tourism market this year, with an increasing number of staycationers from Metro Manila, a company official said.

The Philippine market is at a threshold or a pivotal point where it will grow sharply over the next five to 10 years, RHR Senior Vice-President and Business Unit Manager Barun Jolly said in an interview with BusinessWorld.

He noted that the tourism sector has rebounded from the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and has already reached pre-pandemic levels.

The recovery is attributed to initiatives by the Department of Tourism, the Filipino brand of hospitality, and the emerging growth opportunities outside major tourist hubs like Metro Manila, Boracay, and Cebu.

“Places like Naga City and General Santos City are brimming with potential because the middle class of Philippines that is growing very rapidly. They are earning well and have a higher spending potential,” he said.

In terms of staycations, the company has observed a notable trend dubbed “bleisure,” where business trips are combined with leisure stays, Mr. Jolly said.

“We have been very mindful to incorporate the ease of work in every hotel that you go. Starting from an essentials hotel, if you go to a Go Hotel, you’ll be able to work seamlessly, [and] of course, [at] our urban luxury resorts like Fili,” he added.

RHR is tapping into the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) market, providing facilities for corporate and government activities.

According to Colliers Philippines’ 2024 property outlook, the Tourism department is priming the country as a major (MICE) destination in Asia.

Apart from foreign brands, the property consultancy firm also sees an opening of more homegrown MICE facilities in key tourist destinations.

Mr. Jolly said that RHR is also gearing up for the opening of Nustar Resort and Casino in Cebu’s Kawit island, scheduled for full operation in June. This addition, set to surpass the luxury standards of Fili Hotel, signifies RHR’s commitment to enhancing its brand portfolio, he added.

Basic rooms at Nustar Resort and Casino are expected to range between P14,000 to P15,000.

On Nustar’s projected occupancy rate, Mr. Jolly said that it is best to let the hotel run for nine months to get an idea. But considering the “market is pretty strong, anything between mid-60s to mid-70s is quite likely to be achieved,” he noted.

Mr. Jolly oversees RHR’s international brands including Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu, Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Holiday Inn Manila, The Westin Manila, Fili Hotel, and the new addition into the fold, the Nustar Resort and Casino. — Aubrey Rose A. Inosante