Hospitality sector hit hard by coronavirus

March 23, 2020

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has left almost no industry unscathed, including the hospitality industry which has taken a huge hit. From hotels and tour companies to entertainment spots and restaurants, the pandemic has had a destructive impact on almost all of them.

Sales at hotels in the region have also dropped. Jebel Shams Resort for example saw a huge decline in numbers, with 95 per cent of bookings made for March and April cancelled, according to sales and marketing manager Muneer al Balushi.

“We had cancellations from Italian guests who were stopped from entering the country,” he said. “The Italian market is one of the bigger markets for the resort. Later, the Supreme Committee’s decision to suspend all tourist visas got customers to cancel their trips to Oman.”

Despite that, however, Balushi said that the ‘unfortunate epidemic’ took place at the end of the tourism season and that the resort has plans to host more events to encourage domestic tourism.

Restaurants have also lost a big portion of their sales.

Giselda Abate, general manager of Fresco, an Italian restaurant-chain in Muscat, said the number of dine-in customers has dropped by 50 per cent, despite the fact that the restaurant has mandated several precautionary practices such as sanitising the menu cards before giving them to customers and wiping tables and chairs with chlorine frequently.

General manager of Yellow Cab Pizza Co, Debabrata Das, reported a similar decline in numbers with a 50 per cent decrease in general sales and a 70 per cent decline in the number of walk-in customers. The pizzeria has also implemented harsher sanitation practices.

A restaurateur in the food business, Nasha al Salmi has seen a clear impact on two of her restaurants, The SteakCompany, a 50 per cent drop in sales, and Kalabash Lounge, a staggering 92.3 per cent decline in sales. The large drop in Kalabash Lounge was mainly attributed to the sheesha ban that was implemented in the country, as many customers failed to understand that while sheesha was no longer being served in the restaurant, food and beverages still were.

(Contributed by Liyana al Abdul Salam)

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