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The Visayas is the “backbone” of Philippine tourism – Aklan-Boracay, Bohol, Cebu (“the ABBC of Philippine Tourism”). In fact, when measured by international arrivals it is practically the only “meat” of Philippine tourism.

Yet, based on its “findings” pursuant to its hotel star rating program, the DOT concluded that Visayan hotels are grossly inferior to those in Manila.

2014 Manila – NCR Visayas (includes Boracay, Panglao, Cebu)
# Foreign Arrivals 1.1 million 2.5 million
Percent of Hotel Rooms Rated 5 Star by DOT 35% 6%
Average DOT Star Rating, by rooms 3.8 Stars 3.4 Stars

The Visayas had 2.5 Million foreign tourist arrivals in 2014 vs. Manila’s 1.1 Million. If we’re so inferior, why is it that we have twice as many foreign customers?

According to the DOT’s “quality” ratings pursuant to its hotel star rating program, the average quality of Manila hotel rooms is 3.8 stars, vs. Visayas 3.4 stars. If this doesn’t sound like a big difference, try this, which is the same proportion: children in NCR have an average IQ of 100; meanwhile, children in the Visayas have an average IQ of 88.

An even more glaring statistic is that 35% of Manila hotel rooms were rated 5 stars, vs. only 6%of Visayan hotels. Considering that hundreds of hotels are involved, these are major differences, like saying that the average income of all Caucasians in the United States is $52,000, while the average income of Filipino-Americans is $75,000! (These are true numbers, by the way – magagaling ang mga Pilipino, in almost everyone’s eyes except the DOT’s.) In other words, the DOT is saying that the quality of Visayan hotels is much, much lower than Manila’s.

But if this is true, why is it that the foreign tourists are not flocking to Manila, but to the Visayas?

The ultimate test of “quality” is what people are willing to buy at a certain price. Imagine I told you that in my expert opinion McDonald’s is much, much better than Jollibee. But if you then found out that McDonald’s sales in the Philippine are only half those of Jollibee, would you believe my claim?

Well, that is what the DOT is saying: We don’t care what the customers are buying, we’re telling you that Visayan hotels are inferior. That’s because we’re the experts. After all, we’re from the DOT. Mga big-city boys ata kami.Yung iba pa naming mga consultant, puti. Sikat, diba? Puti na walang trabaho sa kanilang bansa, pero puti pa rin. (We’re big-city boys, don’t forget. And some of our consultants are even white. You’re impressed, right? Whites who are unemployed in their own country, but still whites, after all.)

As a Visayan, are you going to sit still while ignorant, arrogant DOT clerks in Manila continue to belittle us and our tourism industry? Are you going to allow them to take our Visayan tax money, and then waste it to promote Manila as a tourist destination, and to build more and more skyways in Manila while spending almost nothing in the Visayas?

Now here’s the final piece of the puzzle. Occupancy of hotels in Manila has been stuck between 60 and 70% for the last four decades (National Bureau of Statistics). Unknown to the general public, many so-called luxury properties in Manila are losing money. The Mandarin just had to close for good and so far the property is just abandoned. Would it close if it were making money? The InterContinental is about to be torn down. Many of the newly-built properties, especially the casino-related ones, are losing lots and lots of money every day because the Chinese gamblers they were counting on never materialized. Red ink is gushing out every hour. They are desperate to attract customers.

Guess whom they’re looking to suck customers from? Where else? The Visayas!

Should the Visayas just lie down and wait to be sucked dry by the big business interests in Manila?

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