Hotelier endures agri prices surge

As the hospitality and hotel industries attempt to recover from the strict restrictions and shutdowns imposed to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, surging commodity prices are creating new challenges for the sectors.

In an interview, Anna Liza Vergara, general manager of Sheraton Manila Hotel, a member of the Marriott Hotel Group, said that food prices on their menu had increased by as much as 70 percent with the high cost of local and imported ingredients.

“Not just sugar supply, we are affected with a lot of surging prices of raw materials, including meat, onions, everything, with a mix of locally sourced and imported agricultural products. Both are hitting us badly,” Vergara said.

After hitting P150 per kilo in the past weeks, refined or white sugar prices in select supermarkets can fell to P70 per kilo after the owners of major supermarkets, including Puregold, Robinsons, and SM, agreed to the request of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to reduce their retail prices.

Also, these supermarkets have affirmed to unload one million kilos of sugar in their respective stores since Monday.

In addition to the spike in agricultural products, Vergara said the fluctuating electricity rates also impact their business.

“Even electricity is hitting us. There are a lot of things affecting our industry in the hotel. We have to adjust our prices, from 30 percent to 70 percent, rather than compromise the quality of food we serve or retrench personnel. But it’s a good thing there are still a good number of people willing to pay a little bit more to enjoy their stay,” she added.

The Manila Electric Company has imposed a two-month price decrease in energy for July and August. This month, Meralco said the two months reduction totaled 20.87 centavos per kilowatt-hour, bringing the overall rate to P9.5458/kWh.

This is estimated to translate to a decrease of P42 in the total bill of residential customers consuming 200 kWh.

Guests are coming back

Although their occupancy rate has not yet returned to the pre-pandemic level, Vergara said they are beginning to receive an ample number of guests since the reopening of the economy goes full swing in the last quarter of 2021.

“Occupancy-wise, we are getting there, and it’s an upward direction and a lot better compared to where we were during the onset of the pandemic. And we would like more international MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) to increase international tourist arrivals. There’s a huge opportunity there,” Vergara underlined.

She hoped the government would not impose another round of strict lockdown measures even if there’s a spike in Covid-19 cases.

In his first State of the Nation Address last July, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made clear that his administration would not resort to strict lockdown measures, especially in the National Capital Region, as the country must balance the welfare and health of the people with the economy.

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