Political Turmoil Hits Hospitality Sector
thousands of jobs maybe at risk
Occupancy rate at five-star hotels in Beirut is currently 42 percent, while at four-star hotels it is 36 percent, down from 65 percent in both categories during the same period last year, said Pierre Ashkar, the president of the Association of Hotel Owners.
“The situation is very bad. All the international and regional conferences that were scheduled to take place at hotels in Beirut have been either cancelled or postponed. All the costly marketing effort that we have done in the past five months evaporated as a result of the state of political uncertainty that grips the country,” he said. Ashkar said that the dire state of affairs negatively affects not only Beirut hotels but the entire hospitality sector. This includes hotels throughout the country, furnished apartments, travel agents, restaurants and car rental agencies. The sector employs 130,000 persons, he said. Nicolas Chammas, the president of International Trading for Hotels and Restaurant Supplies, INTHRA, which sells consumable products to the hospitality sector, said that “the situation is indeed grave. Many of the five-star hotels have not paid their vendors for two or three months. They may soon start to lay off employees.” Chammassaid that a similar situation emerged during 1999-2002, when political bickering paralyzed the country.
However, Ashkar said that, while hotels have not yet dismissed any employees, “we have contingency plans that include giving unpaid leave to staff members.”
Date Posted: Jan 25, 2011