Waterfront chief: Tap local, Asian markets outside China
Focus on other markets.
Alfred Portenschlager, Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino general manager, gave this advice to tourism industry stakeholders in the aftermath of the conflict between the Philippines and China.
Portenschlager said that the industry is feeling the pinch because of the conflict but it’s time to look at other markets in the neighborhood, which is outside of China, including the local market.
“Hong Kong, China and Macau are all gone. We have to focus now where Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are going. The local market is not to be overlooked. Ninety million people is a huge market that if tapped can help sustain the industry,” said Portenschlager.
He said he’s optimistic with growth of Cebu’s tourism industry despite the China conflict, it would be up to the players to promote their properties and the whole of Cebu.
He also called on the government to resolve the China issue as soon as possible to avoid having it become a dead market and to address infrastructure needs to help us attract and cater to other markets.
“The need for direct flights should be looked into because convenience in coming here is always a factor that tourists consider when deciding where to spend their holidays. Our advantage is that we are near everyone and we only need to make the transfer possible through direct flights offered by airline companies,” he said.
For Waterfront, Portenschlager said hotel officials continued to to invest in their property so that they could get a bigger share of their target markets which include group tours and conventions.
The hotel recently completed the renovation of its grand lobby. The lower lobby renovation is ongoing. Both projects are part of its three-phase renovation for the hotel with a budget of P300 million or P100 million for each phase.
The second phase will include renovation of function rooms scheduled to start in 2013, said Maebelle Varron, Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino marketing communications manager.
“We shall be launching the grand lobby and lower lobby by July this year. This is our way of making it more convenient for our guests. By July, we will be having two lobbies. In the grand lobby, we will have three entrances—the casino entrance, the main entrance, and the convention center entrances,” said Varron.
“This is one way that we will make our property more preferred by international and domestic guests. Convenience should spell the difference especially at this time of greater competition,” said Portenschlager.
The Waterfront general manager said he also expected a slowdown in the market as clients would tighten their belts because it’s election year in the United States and Europe is still recovering from the financial crisis.
“With that happening now, it is also a good time to reflect on ourselves because once we come back, we want to come back with a vengeance,” he said.
He said the Philippines’ strength is in its people—a natural sense of hospitality and ease in speaking English.
“We hope that the tourism department will continue to put in more useful developments for the industry. The tourism slogan (More fun in the Philippines) proved to be very helpful and very positive and most players are already using it in their individual promotions, which is good,” he said.
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