It says the sector needs support
The UAE Hospitality Think Tank has published “The Way Ahead for Hospitality” calls on authorities to support hoteliers across various channels, including financial means. Altogether, there are 15 steps laid out to help the hotel sector.
These ‘calls to action’ fall under five groups: crisis support, collaboration, sustainability, efficiency and safety.
First are the measures needed in crisis support:
1. Banks to provide greater support and flexibility on key terms for facilities to the industry
2. Utilities waive transfer fees, at least until end of 2020, and discount district cooling charges
3. Government to provide a 25 to 50 per cent subsidy for staff accommodation costs
4. Waive employment permit and visa charges
5. Waive taxes, including municipality and VAT, and suspend non-essential security enhancements
6. Release hotels from responsibility of hosting non-stranded guests who refuse to pay for their stay. Government to provide accommodation
7. Establish an official industry body to provide a forum and a voice for the hospitality sector to encourage greater collaboration and unity, and to work on behalf of all hoteliers in the UAE
8. Establish a UAE hospitality industry initiative to help hotels develop their online presence and reduce their reliance on OTAs and travel agents
9. Introduce a national and/or emirate-level hotel development strategy that will manage the supply of hotels and other hospitality assets in a holistic way and ensure appropriate assets are available to meet future needs
10. Introduce a national payments platform to simplify and consolidate government fees
11. Introduce new legislation and establish an industry body to support the adoption of new technology across the UAE hospitality sector
12. Introduce flexible employment regulation to allow for part-time workers and employment of staff from a wider range of countries
13. Update zoning regulations to enable a more flexible use of space within hotels
14. Introduce mechanism that enables the sharing of investment costs of new technology to improve health and safety standards across the sector
15. Legislation to require hoteliers to establish a ‘rainy day fund’ or mandatory employment insurance to ensure staff welfare in the event of an emergency
Industry representatives who took part in the report included Mashreq; MEED; Abu Dhabi National Hotels’ Ansarai Hospitality; Colliers International; Five Hotels and Resorts; Golden Sands Hotels; HAMA MEA; HVS; Millennium Hotels and Resorts; and RAK Hospitality Holding.
Joel Van Dusen, head of corporate and investment banking group at Mashreq Bank, said: “The regional hospitality sector already faces multiple headwinds, and the pandemic has only further impacted the industry with factors such as the global economic environment, low oil prices, struggling tourist numbers and oversupply.
“Despite this, there are numerous opportunities which can be leveraged to make the industry a more sustainable proposition for the foreseeable future. This report presents insights and recommendations that act as a stimuli for the industry to come together and rethink the existing model. Only by creating a permanent shift in the way business is done, will the hospitality industry be able to create a strong momentum during the medium term.”
Richard Thompson, MEED’s editorial director, added: “The status the UAE enjoys as a leading tourism and leisure destination can be attributed in part to the best-in-class offerings delivered by the hospitality sector. In these unprecedented times, we have a shared responsibility of ensuring that the sector continues to stay afloat and thrive. In this report, the UAE Hospitality Think Tank lays out clear and insightful recommendations that can pave the way forward for the hospitality industry to once again flourish.”