IDC’s serviced apartments concept discussed at World Travel Expo

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines together with Ad Asia Events launched the first-ever virtual travel conference, part of the World Travel Expo 2021, held last October 14-16, 2021. 

The three-day conference and expo hosted distinguished speakers like DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, Tourism Promotions Board Chief, Maria Anthonette Velasco, PWC’s Executive Director for Deals and Corporate Finance, Raoul Villegas, Ayala Hotels & Resorts Group Managing Director Andrea Mastellone, and KLM/Airfrance Country Head Arthur Plugge,  who combined, provided important information and foresight about the Philippines’ tourism sector and how it can recover from the unexpected crisis. 

The speakers mainly discussed their experiences and what actions must be taken into consideration to contribute to the recovery of tourism. The focus was definitely on reviving tourism and on how to re-assure the travelers about their health and safety during their travels. Architect Romolo Valentino Nati, Chairman, and CEO of Italpinas Development Corporation (IDC) was one of the speakers during day one and discussed the different types of accommodation in the hospitality industry and how serviced apartments or condotels clearly outperform hotel rooms in health, safety, and especially the guest’s comfort. 

The PSE-listed developer has in fact dedicated a large portion of its property inventory for fully furnished serviced apartments starting with their first and operational project, Primavera Residences in Cagayan de Oro. Investors, in fact, have had the opportunity to enroll their units into a professionally hotel-like managed pool, increasing therefore their economic performance and offering their clients hassle-free ownership. The same concept is being carried forward in the now nearly handed over CdO project of Primavera City Phase One and also in Miramonti Residences in Sto Tomas, Batangas. Another speaker like Airfrance/KLM’s Arthur Plugge tried to devise possible plans for air travel after the COVID-19 pandemic where safety precautions when boarding the planes are reassessed and reevaluated. 

Others like Mary Gaw-Sow talked about the Impact of Tourism on the Real Estate Industry analyzing trends in the industry and how these potentials can be further maximized. Andrea Mastellone shared how Ayala Hotels and Resorts managed to navigate past the challenges of the downturn and how the group is not looking to walk out of this stronger than ever. All agreed, in the end, that the recovery will undergo different phases and that the first phase will certainly be domestic tourism that will rely more on traveling with their cars than taking flights. Moving forward to the second day of the virtual travel conference, PWC’s Raoul Villegas highlighted the economic effects of the economic crisis as well as the trends deriving from it confirming for example a decisively increased number of cars sold in 2021. The efforts towards recovery have been much highlighted with a deeper analysis of the different stakeholders like the need for tourism and hospitality workers’ education and training, the new norm for hospitality marketing and the focus on the emotional impact of travel, the health and safety certifications for tourism establishments and the assessment of existing safety protocols of COVID 19. 

Lissa Shaker of Asia World Hospitality underlined the opportunities for tourism workers and HRM students to attain international training certificates from AHLEI, the American Hotel & Leisure Educational Institute, and how re-training of hospitality workers is absolutely a necessity after a long time far from work. The conference was concluded by a roundtable discussion that was attended by a handful of guest speakers who unanimously expressed optimism for a gradual but full recovery of the tourism sector.

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