Hotel industry demands relief package
Official opposes proposal to convert hotels into quarantine centres
KARACHI: No sector seems to be safe from the novel coronavirus that has enveloped the entire world. The COVID-19 pandemic has particularly devastated the global tourism and hospitality industry.
Local travel in Pakistan has also been limited due to the persistent increase in infection cases across the country, which has directly impacted the travel and tourism industry.
Hotel and travel operators in Pakistan are facing huge losses. Pakistan Hotels Association has demanded that the federal government come up with a relief package for the hospitality industry.
The measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus are affecting the flow of guests into hotels. Around 90% of rooms in Pakistan's hotels are empty, which is causing financial distress to the sector.
Pakistan Hotels Association Chairman Zubair Baweja said, "Hotels are an important pillar of the hospitality industry and in order to save them the government must announce a relief package as soon as possible."
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He said the hotel industry business in the current summer season had been threatened by the virus, adding the industry's revenue had vanished and its members were facing trouble in paying salaries to staff as well as utility bills.
"The hotel industry can be provided with immediate relief by delaying payment of utility bills and by doing away with government taxes and duties," Baweja stressed.
Pakistan's hotel industry has also rejected a proposal by the National Disaster Management Authority that called for converting three and four-star hotels into quarantine centres.
Baweja said the infrastructure of hotels was not adequate for keeping people in quarantine and the hotel staff was also untrained for the job. "Most hotels are in close proximity to the population, which will also pose a threat to the people in surrounding areas."
He said the number of three-star hotels was 23 and the four-star hotels numbered only 13 in the country. He was of the view that instead of turning hotels into quarantine zones, the government should transform buildings that were far from the city and populous areas to better cope with the outbreak.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2020.
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