Call center firm revives plans to provide free skills trainings
Cebu-based call center, Performance 30 aims to help the government provide job opportunities to job seekers in the rural areas by offering free training for interested job seekers and Senior High School graduates from the far rural districts. In partnership with the respective LGUs and the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), Performance 30 founder, Michael Cubos, believes that it is the perfect time to initiate this online training considering the rising unemployment rate as an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the demand for outsourcing jobs still on the rise as companies around the world try to save cost in this pandemic season, Cubos aims to get rural residents employed after completing training modules on customer service, English language proficiency, and cultural familiarization, among others.
As of the end of 2020, Colliers saw office vacancy in Metro Cebu rising to 19.9% from only 11.6% in 2019 as outsourcing firms and traditional offices rationalize office space and implement remote working due to the pandemic. Office deals from the outsourcing sector only reached 3,400 sq metres (36,600 sq feet) in 2020, down 96% from the 92,000 sq metres (989,900 sq feet) recorded in 2019. Colliers recommends landlords to offer POGO-vacated spaces to outsourcing firms with immediate plug-and-play office space requirements. We also encourage landlords to support short-term requirements of BPOs implementing alternative schemes such as hub-and-spoke and be on the lookout for outsourcing firms that continue to occupy space including those from healthcare, logistics and e-commerce segments.
Hotel owners peg lost revenues at 80% to 90% due to pandemic
Philippine hotels have lost some 80 to 90 percent in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) booking all hotels in NCR as quarantine facilities for repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers as part of current travel protocols, Philippine Hotel Owners Association President, Arthur Lopez reports that such income gained is only enough to pay their employees and utility costs. On the other hand, with the congestion of hospitals as a result of the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the Philippine College of Physicians has appealed to transform hotels into additional isolation facilities. According to Lopez, however, this may not be possible as all hotels are already fully booked because of the influx of returning OFWs, as well as due to the logistical difficulties of converting hotel rooms into makeshift hospitals.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) show that foreign arrivals to the Philippines only reached 1.48 million in 2020, down 82% from the 8.3 million recorded in 2019. The subdued foreign arrivals and travel restrictions implemented has resulted in plunging hotel occupancies in Metro Manila. At the end of 2020, average hotel occupancy reached 20% from 72% in 2019. In our opinion, hotel occupancy is only likely to remain below 30% by the end of 2021 as tourists and leisure groups are still cautious of travelling due to the pandemic. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that global passenger traffic is only likely to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024. Colliers encourages hotel operators to enhance and strictly follow the health and safety protocols implemented by the government. In our opinion, the anti-pandemic efforts laid out by the DOT should also be highlighted to attract more guests and recapture demand once market sentiment improves.
SMC opens northbound section of Skyway Extension
San Miguel Corporation has opened two of the three lanes of the northbound section of its Skyway Extension project, without any toll fees until further notice. The project’s northbound section which covers 4 kilometers from Susana Heights to Sucat in Paranaque can be used by Class 1 vehicles with RFID. The section will allow an additional capacity of 4,500 vehicles per hour and is expected to expedite travel time to NLEX from 2 to 3 hours to just 25 to 30 minutes. It also allows motorists coming from provinces such as Laguna, Batangas, and Cavite to bypass the Alabang viaduct by giving them a direct link to the elevated Skyway System.
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The completion of the Skyway Extension project is crucial in further decongesting Metro Manila and raising the attractiveness of neighboring provinces such as Cavite and Laguna for property development. In our opinion, developers should start acquiring parcels of land in these areas as we see this infrastructure project raising land and property values and boosting these province’s viability as business hubs south of Metro Manila even post-pandemic. Other road projects due to be completed from 2021 to 2023 include the BGC-Ortigas Link Bridge, Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, NLEX-SLEX connector and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX).
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