As early as October last year, most hotels in Cebu City were fully booked for the Sinulog weekend from January 18, Friday to January 20, Sunday for the grand parade and feast day of the Sto. Niño.
This is particularly true for mid-size city hotels and pension houses.
In Dynasty Tourist Inn, general manager Melanie Guanzon, said all their 37 rooms were reserved by guests for the Sinulog weekend.
“We have guests mostly from Manila coming here with their families to witness the event. They come here every year,” said Guanzon.
The same was true for Gran Prix Econotel, which is also located near the parade route.
“All our 39 rooms have been booked since July last year by telelphone or online. Usually other properties near the parade route are the first to be taken up by a mix of guests – local and foreign,” said Grace Singco.
Department of Tourism Regional Director Rowena Montecillo said she wasn’t surprised by what is notw an annual pattern.
“Most hotels in the city usually get inquiries as early as June from tourist all over the world. They make contact over the phone or through online bookings,” said Montecillo.
The event is mounted by the Sinulog Foundation Inc. and the Cebu City government with the DOT helping in promotion.
“We expect to see a lot of new groups coming like Filipino-Americans from California who have Ilocano roots who are coming this year,” said Montecillo.
Island’s Stay Hotel both in Cebu City and Mactan City are also fully booked with all 52 rooms already reserved for the event according to Island’s Group president Jay Aldeguer.
“Majority of our guest or 70% are locals and the rest are foreign tourists,” said Aldeguer.
Pacific Pensionne general manager Shanna Louise T. Lopez said all her 73 rooms were booked by November last year.
Among mid-size hotels even the newly opened Quest Hotel Cebu along Archbishop Reyes Avenue is fully occupied for the Sinulog.
Reservations officer Meryl Calzadas said all 427 rooms were reserved for the Sinulog weekend as early as June last year.
While the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel is in the North Reclamation Area far from the parade, it’s hard to get any of their 400 rooms for the festival weekend.
According to Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu director for sales and marketing Ann Olalo, starting Monday or January 14 up to Thursday of that week, occupancy is 70 percent.
“Guests start coming in by Friday for the event – 55% domestic and 45% foreign tourists,” said Olalo.
Marco Polo Plaza is also booked solid on the special weekend, said Michelle Maranga.
A wave of tourists come to Cebu in December to celebrate Christmas and New Year then stay on for the Sinulog in January to close their vacation, said DOT’s Montecillo. There were 211,875 tourists who came to Cebu in January last year based on DOT figures – 105,079 are domestic travellers while 105,702 are foreign tourists and 1,094 are overseas Filipino workers.
The bulk or 65 percent of foreign guests were East Asian tourists including Cebu’s to three markets – Korea (42,437), Japan (15,459) and China (8,747). /Aileen Garcia-Yap, Reporter