Editorial : Hospitality industry heaves a sign of relief as restrictions gradually ease

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The industry that is suffering the most immediate repercussions in view of COVID-19 is hospitality and leisure.

Hospitality is among the hardest hit due to fears of community spread through travel and group environments.

No doubt, the global trend in cancellation of flights, closure of borders (land, sea and air), and the need to maintain social distancing – including the ban on public gatherings – is having huge negative impacts on economic activity in the hospitality industry.

Among the worst hit are hotels, airline business, tourist sites and attractions, and car rental services. Hotel occupancy rates are down from 70% to under 30%, and staff are being sent home.

It is for these reasons that there appears to be some form of relief for those engaged in the hospitality industry, as the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) seems to have eased some restrictions so the industry can come back to life.

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) issued some guidelines on Monday, May 11 and said food chains and restaurants can operate sit-in as well as pick-up and delivery services while also observing the safety protocols.

Drinking bars can operate while observing appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols, the GTA said. However, all night-clubs must remain closed, it further noted. This should bring a measure of relief to many industry players, as many have been thinking of laying off staff while others had begun clamouring for a stimulus package to resuscitate the ailing industry.

Up until the restrictions are formally eased, the guidelines offered by the GTA means drinking spots (pubs), restaurants and food chains can operate – provided they observe the hygiene protocols and appropriate social distancing provisions.

This means the economy is slowly coming out of its coma-like situation and will soon bounce back to activity, provided the go-ahead is given by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Presidency. People’s lives can assume further normalcy, as the partial lockdown was lifted a few weeks ago.

COVID-19’s economic impact has been devastating, and it is only too gratifying that, gradually, the restrictions are being lifted and the economy is slowly coming back to life.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwasi Agyeman, indicated that his outfit is holding discussions with the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) to look at guidelines and modalities for members to benefit from the GH¢600million stimulus package.

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