If there is any sector that suffered hugely under the COVID-19 pandemic, then it is the tourism and hospitality sector.
To this end, the Ghana Hotels Association (GHA) 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 government late last week, the Association’s President, Dr. Edward Acker Nyamekeh said it is public knowledge that the sector was run to zero due to measures introduced to fight the spread of the virus.
Data from the Ghana Statistical Service clearly indicates 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 contracted by a horrifying 79.4 percent in the period under discussion (ie. second quarter of 2020).
Consequently, the association drafted 10 key measures that, if implemented, would aid a quick recovery of the sector to help it contribute meaningfully to economic growth. Dr. Nyamekeh believes 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.
Additionally, they want government to 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 want a clearer appreciation of the GH¢3 billion facility government agreed with commercial banks to support the operation of selected industries and how the up-market hotels can access it.
They also demand 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.
Dr. Nyamekeh maintains the hotel sector is very far from recovery and the burden of operating hotels at low occupancy levels makes it prudent to ensure that their pleas for support is honoured.
We believe most jurisdictions have recognized the negative impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector and have accordingly fashioned out a stimulus to bail them out.