Data available to the B&FT from 16 hotels in three regions have shown that a total sum of almost GH¢63.1million – equivalent to US$11.8 million (Bank of Ghana, March 19, 2020 mid-rate of 5.3480) – has been lost due to cancellation of room bookings and conferences scheduled for the months of March and April.
Of the 16 hotels, one is based in Eastern Region, one in Bono Region and 14 in the Greater Accra Region.
The hotel in Eastern Region has lost some GH¢1.7 million while the hotel in Bono Region lost about GH¢2.16 million after cancellations of room bookings and conferences over the two-month period. The 14 hotels, including some five-, four-, and three-star hotels based in Greater Accra lost about GH¢59.2 million as a result to the cancellations.
Many of these cancellations happened after the president’s directive against mass gatherings and the announcement of travel advisory by the information minister, all in the bid to contain and prevent spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The situation, according to the Ghana Hotel Association (GHA), is likely to worsen in the coming months if nothing is done to support its members. The Association has thus petitioned the Ghana Tourism Authority boss, Akwasi Agyeman, for government to support the hospitality industry through the coronavirus crisis.
Petition to the GTA (Ghana Tourism Authority)
The Coronavirus is a challenge and a tragedy in equal measure for this country, and we know how real the threat is to society’s most vulnerable. All of us in hospitality wish to play our part in protecting those who need it, and assisting in any way possible to see the country through these dark times.
As the fourth-largest industry and foreign currency earner in Ghana, our industry provides much-needed jobs for tens of thousands of Ghanaians. We therefore urgently request a more measured and urgent supportive stance from the government of Ghana.
We are petitioning for government to take responsibility and formally close venues if that is what is actually required, instead of effectively doing so without taking ownership.
Please, therefore find listed below a list of critical actions that need to be implemented post-haste by government if we are to survive the current global contagion of coronavirus:
- A clear Bailout and Rescue plan (financial and practical) laid out by government for both staff and business owners
- Transparency on timelines for Bailout and Rescue Plans so businesses can prepare logistically and rationally for the turbulent times ahead
- Utility tariffs – reduce by at least 65 percent till December 31, 2020
- Water tariff – should be reduced by 65 percent till December 31, 2020
- Suspend the Tourism Levy of 1 percent, and use current reserves to aid in Hotel Bailouts.
- VAT – reduce the Output Rate for hotels to match the 3 percent Input Rate paid by all suppliers
- Property Rates – Reduce by 50 percent
- EPA/GHAMRO/ARSOG – Suspend these charges until further notice
- Stop banks from charging the principal & interest on loans over a period of at least six months
- SSNIT to support by paying a portion of employee’s contribution as salary over a six-month period
- Unpaid Leave for Staff members during layoffs for a minimum of three-months per year asap – or
- Union annual salary increment requests should be suspended during said trying times
- Import duties on Food and Non-Food Products for Hospitality should be cancelled till December 31, 2020
Overall, the safety and well-being of customers and the team is our biggest priority. We are calling on government to sit up and offer the hospitality industry immediate fiscal relief; otherwise, thousands of job-losses and business closures will occur. Some of us are literally weeks away from shut-downs. Every day we stay open digs us deeper into debt, not to mention the liability of lawsuits by clients and staff alike should some of them contract the virus.