Categorized | Davao Hotels, Hotel News

Foreign visitors pick small cheap hotels in Davao

No need to wonder why government tourism officials can’t get an accurate reading of “hotel occupancies” in Davao which gives them a good idea whether or not tourism is actually growing in this booming southern city.

cheap hotels in davao
Green Windows Dormitel Davao

I think it would be a big mistake for tourism offices here to depend too much on the figures of the number of occupancies in local hotels to find out if there’s a growing volume of visitors, travelers and tourists in Davao.

These are the numbers submitted by the Davao City Tourism Office and the regional office of the Department of Tourism (DOT) here to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) to measure the trend of visitors coming here.

The problem is there are still so many hotels, inns, lodging and pension houses in Davao City which deliberately refused to be “accredited” by the city tourism office.

As such, they’re not submitting official reports of hotel occupancies in their hotels.

Many hotels here don’t really care about government “accreditation” to operate their hotel businesses, as long as they keep booking and filling up all their rooms with both local and foreign guests to a point that they’re always “fully-booked” even during dull, ho-hum days.

Since they’re not accredited, they’re not required to submit regular reports of their room occupancy to the tourism offices.

This was admitted to me when I was inviting some of them to join our Davao Road Map series by getting ad spaces in the map. “We’re not accredited by tourism, but that’s okay with us, we’re always fully booked here, we’re even turning away guests” Lydia, a small hotel owner told me.

It’s no longer surprising to me to find so many foreign guests checking in small, cheap hotels in Davao Citythat are not recognized and accredited by government tourism offices.

I have the impression, rightly or wrongly, there seems to be more foreign visitors preferring to stay in sleazy, cheap hotels than in plush, five-star hotels like Marco Polo, Apo View, or Waterfront Insular.

In fact, I know of one wealthy Swiss who came here to buy a couple of expensive condo units at Ayala’s Aeon Tower, but spent three days and nights in a dusty, cockroach-ridden small hotel along C.M. Recto Street, Davao City and really enjoying it.

Besides buying the condo units, my Swiss friend is even thinking of a business investment in Davao simply because he loves the kind of people living here.

“You people are so friendly and look so happy even if you’re so poor! We’re the opposite–most of us are so rich but we don’t look as happy as you Filipinos!” he told me during dinner at a Chinese restaurant here a few months ago.

Just for a bit of courtesy, we didn’t bother to ask one hotel owner why many small hotels chose not to be accredited by tourism authorities.

“Of course, I’m always cynical, but I think it’s not so much that they hate the regular paperwork needed to keep them under the good graces of government tourism. Maybe, just maybe, many of them don’t want to show the actual occupancy numbers to the government, making them official figures for the Bureau of Internal Revenue auditors to compute how much in taxes they owe the government.”

That is saying in a rather sticky way, “tax evasion” by small hotel owners who decided against accreditation to avoid paying taxes for the time being at least, until the cash flow from hotel bookings help them eventually to stand on their own.

This is true especially for new small hotel owners who can’t afford advertising to launch their new hotel businesses.

Many foreign tourists who come to enjoy Davao’s tourists spots and exciting destinations don’t want to spend P4,000 a day for a hotel room which limits the number of days they want to spend time in this city.

Budget tourists and backpackers can enjoy seven to eight days in Davao if they get a P500 a day room in a small hotel here. The rest of their travel budget will go, of course, to tasting our exotic food delicacies and buying ethnic souvenirs.

Most of them, even the very rich, aren’t so keen about such luxury “amenities” as swimming pool, palace–like lobbies, bedrooms fit for Kings, etc.–all they want is a clean, decent, but cheap room with friendly people all around.

Tourists came in Davao not to show off how rich they are and throw money around in a poor country like the Philippines. They came here because “it’s more fun in the Philippines!”

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