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Coronavirus bites deep into the hospitality industry

Yeshi Dema / Khmer Times Share:
The view of Phnom Penh capital where the hospitality industry has been seriously affected by the coronavirus. KT/Pann Rachana

Major hotel chains are temporarily closing part of their properties and seeing occupancy rates tumble as travellers stay at home during the global viral epidemic and lockdown.

Hotel owners and management are moving fast to tackle the downturn. Measures taken by some hotels include “mothballing” some floors to save on electricity and manpower while others have told staff to use two-thirds of their annual leave by the end of the month due to lack of guests.

One hotel manager, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that guests have been moved from one wing to another in a bid to minimise the operational overheads in the  larger unused wing.

“Several of the hotel’s food and beverage outlets have also been closed. We are only keeping the outlets that cater for buffet meals open. The occupancy rate is about 30 percent and the lounge, gym and spa have been closed since mid March. The hotel’s meeting room, which used to be full before the outbreak, has remained shut,” they said.

While this particular hotel has not laid off staff or implemented salary cuts yet, the manager added that if the situation worsens, they may have no choice but to encourage workers to take several days of unpaid leave.

Other hotel staff at every level have already seen serious wage cuts or lay-offs.

“We have been forced to reduce our staffing levels by 90 percent and we are asking our head of departments to work only two days a week with a half-month salary. The general manager has been encouraged to work with no salary, while the chief engineer of the hotel will have a half month of pay,” revealed another hotel manager who also wished to remain anonymous.

A third hotel manager, who also refused to be named, said that more than 700 rooms in their once-busy establishment remain empty. Many of those that are occupied are filled with long-term guests.

“The situation is not getting any better, so we are compelled to take certain measures to cut costs whilst the business continues to go down hill.  We have kept the room services available but have halted the operation of the spa, gym, restaurants and coffee house with buffet meals. Out of more than 600 staff, barely 100 are working now,” they said.

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