Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread rapidly around the world. Almost every country has reported cases. Some countries appear to be at the peak of infection and are urgently building surge capacity in their health systems. In other parts of the world, the number of cases is rising rapidly. Countries such as Russia and Turkey are seeing a recent acceleration. India too has experienced a significant increase in the number of cases since the beginning of April and has evolved its response strategy, including extending the nationwide lockdown. This virulent pandemic has seen economies head for a nosedive in their fortunes. Health systems all around the world are been stretched to their maximum limits.
One key sector in our ecosystem as individuals that has been affected by this pandemic is the hotel industry. No one knows when the lodging business will bounce back from the social-distancing measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but it’s a safe bet that the deadly pandemic will change the experience of staying in a hotel.
Personally, I have read some reports that show that there would be a rise in unemployment of up to 25 million, with losses in labour income in the range of USD 860 billion to USD 3.4 trillion.
A recent report of the African Union (AU) states that “regardless of the scenario whether optimistic or pessimistic, COVID-19 will have a harmful socio-economic effect on Africa”. Also, these reports show that close to 2.7 billion workers would be affected, representing around 81 per cent of the world’s workforce. And the hotel sector is no exception particularly in my country, Ghana.
I have followed the media’s reportage on COVID-19 and its effects on businesses in Ghana and it shows clearly that most businesses are on the brink of collapsing as a result of the deadly pandemic.
Many hotels in Accra are ‘suffering’ due to COVID-19 and its restrictions. For instance, borders have been closed, cancellation of flights – thus, closure of airports and ban on social gathering have affected hotels a lot in Ghana.
A report by Citi FM/TV on April 1, 2020 stated that the Ghana Hotels Association is pleading with the government to support the payment of staff of its members who have been asked to stay home due to low patronage of their facilities. So, this shows that hotels in Ghana are facing hardships.
I have seen several online publications that indicate that some major hotels in Accra have shut down their operations due to low patronage due to COVID-19. Earlier on last week I read that Accra City Hotel is among those to have shut down, alongside some five-star hotels.
Generally speaking, a hotel is a managed building or establishment, which provides guests with a place to stay overnight – on a short-term basis – in exchange for money but in this case, that is not the picture in Ghana right now due to the virus. The hotels are not getting guests or any of their services (such as event management, conferencing, banqueting, etc) purchased.
The CEO of Marriott hotel international has made it publicly that coronavirus pandemic will change hotel stays. The international hotel brand (with a branch in Ghana) has been forced to close roughly 25% of its 7,300 global hotels, including about 1,000 in the U.S.
The whole world is at the mercy of this deadly coronavirus which has no end in sight. Systems, structures and institutions are bearing the full brunt of COVID-19.
The hotel and hospitality industry have been of the worst hit sectors as indicated above and this may even worsen till this whole pandemic comes to an end someday.
Written by Joseph Amino