The Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines was founded on September 12,1951 by executives from 10 of the leading hotels and restaurants in Manila and nearby areas. Its main goal was to upgrade the caliber of the local hospitality industry by improving management, skills, personnel services, and overall standards while keeping abreast of trends and developments abroad.
To ensure the organization’s own level of excellence, it is affiliated with the ASEAN Tourism Association and the ASEAN Hotel and Restaurant Associations, while having a working relationship with the International Hotel and Restaurant Association.
At the opening ceremonies of an early HRAP Convention held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
In the Philippines, it has linkages with all government agencies, particularly the Departments of Tourism, Labor and Employment, and Trade and Industry, and maintains active partnerships with a number of private associations nationwide.
When the HRAP was founded in 1951, it counted only a handful of hotels & restaurants as members. The post-war hospitality industry was not the dynamic one we know today.
Fine-dining restaurants, existed only in few establishments. There were no casual dining restaurants in the country then, only family-run eateries.
There were very few tourists visiting post-war Philippines, other than journalists and photographers interested in documenting Manila’s devastation. These few tourist fall into prey of touts who would steal guests from competing hotels. To counteract this practice HRAP instituted a Meet-and-Assist service at all main ports of entry in Manila, a service now common to all hotels in the country.
HRAP also standardized the imposition of a 10 percent service charge at all hotels and restaurants to cover losses due to breakage and other incidentals.
The decade of 60’s, tourism wasn’t a priority of the national government. With no real tourism infrastructure in the country, tourism arrivals were low. Despite this, the local restaurant industry was burgeoning with the full service concept restaurants & the Association started a series of seminars to expose its members to the seminars focused on topics relevant to the management of hotels and restaurants in the country.
The late Secretary of Tourism Jose Aspiras adresses an HRAP convention in the ’80s.
And along this line, in the 90’s, HRAP implemented its grand plan for a professional hotel & restaurant school that would serve as a training ground for hoteliers and restaurateurs in an actual setting. The initiative known as Hotel and Tourism Institute of the Philippines (HTIP) was a first, and was an initiative between the HRAP, DOT and the Singapore Hotel Association Training and Education Center (SHATEC), an elite training school run by the Singapore Hotel Association.
However, funding for the endeavor dried up in the mid-’90s, and the Institute has since folded up. During that period, HTIP did graduate a number of students who would move on in the business and later opened up their own restaurants.
In the early 70’s, HRAP’s started an annual project “Chefs on Parade” It became the Association’s flagship annual event as it grew bigger and bigger each year. It has became the only longest running competition that gathers thousands of culinary professionals and students from the Philippines and the rest of Asia.
The annual culinary event encouraged and nurtured talented chefs and culinary artists to seek improvement in their craft and become world-class experts. It influenced the way hotels and restaurants have aspired to reach high worldclass standards in the way they prepare and present food.
Chefs on Parade also inspired succeeding competitions by independent culinary organizations in the country, making the playing field for new talents healthy, vibrant,and dynamic.
While HRAP membership has grown through the years, the Association has addressed slowly several number of concerns some of which are thorny issues that were affecting the members such as government requirements on hotel staffing among others. Environmental issues are also being addressed via regional workshops and hopefully other concerns thru partnerships and linkages with government agencies.
With the rise of new hotels before the year ends and blossoming of dining establishments, HRAP continues to exercise its leadership as the single voice of the Industry promoting goodwill, understanding, fellowship within the hospitality industry both national and international.