Sofitel closure ‘significant loss’ to PH tourism sector

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco (left) met with executives of Philippine Plaza Holdings Inc., owner of Sofitel Philippine Plaza, on May 13 to discuss the 600-room hotel’s closure on July 1. At right is PPHI President Esteban Peña Sy. (DOT photo)

MANILA – The closure of the iconic Sofitel Philippine Plaza would be a “significant loss” to the country’s tourism sector, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Tuesday.

The 48-year-old five-star hotel announced it will cease operations by July 1, citing safety reasons.

In a meeting with Sofitel executives in Makati City on Monday, Secretary Christina Frasco said the DOT was “very dismayed” when it first heard the closure announcement but conveyed its support behind the decision to prioritize the safety of employees and guests.

“[W]e are in complete agreement in terms of prioritizing worker and tourist safety as that is paramount over and above anything else,” she said.

“We are very dismayed with the announcement of the impending closure of Sofitel, being an icon in Philippine hospitality. We heard the news with much concern, especially that we view our hotel and accommodation sector as a critical component of the industry, especially now that we are making efforts to elevate the status of Philippine tourism vis-a-vis our ASEAN counterparts,” she added.

The tourism chief said the DOT sees the closure as a significant loss for the tourism industry, as well as for the employees and stakeholders.

The agency, she said, stands ready to provide assistance through its job fairs that will be held for the affected employees.

In its news release, the DOT quoted Philippine Plaza Holdings, Inc. president and owner of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Esteban Peña Sy, as saying they “remain optimistic of future developments,” especially that the performance of the hotel “has had its best years ever in 2022 and 2023.”

He said occupancy rates during these years reached 86 percent to 100 percent.

Sofitel Philippine general manager Olivier Larcher also noted that the bay-side property was doing well prior to the announcement, with 2022 and 2023 as their best years in business.

Peña Sy, meanwhile, said separation packages and job training seminars are being made available for the affected employees “so they will be adequately equipped” as they transition to new roles.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza has been open without interruption since 1976 and has served millions, including heads of states, celebrities and global corporations. (PNA)