GROUP bookings from China are beginning to return to the Philippines after inbound operators and hotels – especially in Boracay, Cebu and Bohol – lost millions of pesos following a spate of chartered flight cancellations during the July-August peak season.
Chartered flights are considered the lifeline for many Philippine operators as it offers a direct connection to even remote parts of China.
Cancellations began July 12 after the International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled in favour of the Philippines over China’s territorial claims to the Spratly Islands.
The general manager of a travel agency specialising in inbound travel from China, who spoke on account of anonymity, confirmed that while there is no travel ban from the Chinese government, there were many chartered flight cancellations.
The general manager of another travel agency said that out of 12 groups of 20 rooms each, only three groups materialised.
The sales director of a hotel with properties in Boracay and Bohol said they were affected by massive room cancellations in the hundreds.
Since there are no rules governing flight cancellations from China, it is up to the hotels to decide whether to refund the amount already advanced by tour operators, to forward the bookings, or forfeit them.
But the latter travel agency general manager interviewed said that they are now starting to get bookings again from China and numbers should normalise over the next few months.
The DOSM of a hotel in Boracay said she was not too worried because this is unlike a past incident when there was a blanket ban resulting in zero Chinese arrivals.
She is already seeing bookings from China for September, an indication that the market would normalise soon.