The Ghana Hotels Association (GHA) has presented a 10-point blueprint to the government aimed at supporting the industry to accelerate its recovery from the adverse impact experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
The Association is bemoaning neglect from the government saying that, even though there were several interventions announced to support the business community, many of its members have had to strive to survive the painful impact of the pandemic with no or little state support.
Speaking at a press conference to make their case to the government, the association’s president, Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamikeh Jnr said it is public knowledge that the sector was run to zero due to measures introduced to fight the spread of the virus.
“GDP data from the Ghana Statistical Service clearly indicate that the country’s economy in the second quarter of 2020 faced the full rigors of the coronavirus pandemic, as growth for the first time in about four decades contracted – largely occasioned by the hospitality sector’s abysmal performance.
The data clearly indicate that the hospitality sector, precisely hotels and restaurants, was hardest-impacted by the pandemic and was further largely responsible for the economy’s contraction, as it also contracted by a horrifying 79.4 percent in the period under discussion,” he said.
He noted that the association has, thus, conducted research and drafted 10 key measures that, if implemented, would aid a quick recovery of the sector to help it contribute meaningfully to economic growth.
According to Dr. Ackah-Nyamikeh Jnr, the first thing to help the recovery would be government directing the refund of water bills paid by hotels for the months of April to September 2020 and also introduce a 50 percent electricity discount to hotels for the last quarter of the year, i.e. October, November and December 2020.
Also, government must impress upon the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) to speed up the stimulus package loan disbursement process as well as impress upon the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts (MoTAC) to speed up the Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP) grant disbursement process.
The hoteliers are also requesting further and better particulars on the GH¢3 billion facility government agreed with commercial banks to support the operation of selected industries and how the up-market hotels could access it.
“We want a suspension of the payment of VAT, NHIL, and GETFund by hotels for the last quarter of the year, i.e. October, November and December 2020 or at the very least, put all hospitality enterprises on the 3 percent rate, for Output Tax,” he said.
Also, the hotels want an extension of the remission of penalties on principal debts to tax payers who redeem their outstanding debts due the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to 31st December 2020; and also a directive to all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and hotel regulatory bodies to extend the deadline for payment of regulatory and license fees, including property rates to 31st December 2020.
The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, the hotels urge, must intensify and perhaps offer incentives, to drive domestic tourism.
Dr. Ackah-Nyamikeh Jnr said: “The hotel sector is very far from recovery. Indeed, even the most optimistic assessments of the hotel sector do not show a recovery of business to the 2019 level during 2020, and possibly until a vaccine is widely available. Demand is well below 2019, and is expected to remain so into 2021. Revenue per average room, has also fallen, and the burden of operating our hotels at low occupancy levels make it prudent to ensure that our pleas for support, looks forward, at least to the start of 2021.
So even though we applaud government for its unrelenting efforts to control the spread of the virus and thereby bring business back to near normal, we believe that a lot more can be done to ensure the early recovery of the hotel sector from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”