The President of the Ghana Hotels Association, Dr. Edward Acker Nyameke has called on the government to provide its members with some form of distress alleviation package to help them sustain their business amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to him, the package will be a major move that will ensure the continuity of their business after the nation exits the COVID-19 period. Currently, they are recording their lowest patronage in the history of the industry.
Being interviewed on the most incisive morning show, the Happy Morning Show on Happy98.9FM, he said, “We are not asking for a stimulus package. We’re asking for a distress alleviation package. Stimulus is given to sectors underperforming to stimulate growth. As we speak now, what will we be stimulating? We have no guests, our staff are there and we don’t know if we’re sacking them or not. There are regulatory fees we have to pay and we’re only asking the gov’t to suspend these payments for 2-3 months”.
Dr. Nyameke admitted that the hotels are in over their heads and that is the only reason compelling them to seek the government’s help. “Some smaller hotels have sat down with their employees and agreed to pay them 50% of their salary. Some of the hotels are very big with over 200 staff and have the collective bargaining agreement. Managers have to sit down with them and review their agreement and this is a challenge to the industry”, he noted.
On his authority, the hotel industry has contributed so much to the country when it comes to employment, taxes and foreign exchange, and this is the time for government’s intervention. “If we are in a bad situation now, then it’s time for the gov’t to help us by reducing our utility bills and suspend our regulatory fees,” he appealed.
He accorded effective communication as the basis for which there are no labour agitation in this matter.
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He mentioned that the Tourism Ministry had met with them and other stakeholders after the outbreak and they outlined their distress alleviation proposal to them.
When asked by host, Samuel Eshun, if it will be easy to revive the industry after the COVID-19 outbreak passes, he responded, “It will not be easy to revive our industry. There is a psychological problem associated with such an outbreak and this causes fear. It will take a long time for people to think that traveling to a hotel is okay again. Even in Ghana people think it is easy to contract the disease in a hotel, but most hotels have put in place a lot of measures to prevent the spread making it much safer”.
He went on to mention that the hotel industry depends a lot on travels, and urged industry players and the government to help educate and market hotels more after the outbreak is resolved. “We will have to do a lot of education but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’ll take time for us to bounce back but we will surely bounce back”, he said.
He encouraged Ghanaians to visit hotels as the industry has taken some business decisions to cut down its rates to attract customers, and also order food from their favorite hotels as they have turned their restaurants to delivery services.
With the closure of the various points of entry into Ghana amidst the coronavirus outbreak, some sectors of the economy have taken a hit especially the hospitality industry which relies heavily on tourists.
By: Joel Sanco