COVID-19 Falls Palace Hotel shuts down … as occupancy reduces to zero

The magnitude at which the coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread across the globe is unprecedented, with its impact far-reaching – and has understandably caused wide-scale panic among businesses and the general public.

One of the industries hardest-affected by the pandemic is the hospitality industry. It has seen mass cancellations across rooms, events and conferences. This is certainly a worrying time for hoteliers, with many closing their doors in a bid to prevent further spread of the virus and also to avoid unbearable costs of operation.

The Falls Palace Hotel at Kintampo in the Bono East Region is the latest to join the list of shutdown hotels until further notice. The 25-room facility, which is one of the three (3) 2-Star hotels in the region, was closed down on March 24, 2020. Management of the hotel arrived at the decision after occupancy was frozen for a period time.

The Manager of Falls Palace Hotel, Kwasi Osei, who confirmed this to B&FT said: “After critical observation, it was not businesswise for us to continue running with zero occupancy while we incur high operational cost. A large majority of the staff, numbering 50 (both casual & permanent), have been made to go home; leaving a skeleton personnel here”.

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He noted that the drastic reduction of tourist-visits to the Kintampo Waterfalls has partly contributed to the hotel’s zero occupancy. Falls Palace Hotel is situated adjacent the waterfalls, making it a preferred place of lodging for most tourists, especially foreigners. As at March 18, tourist-visits to the Kintampo Waterfalls had dropped significantly by 75 percent.

Meanwhile, there is a Rest Stop attached to the hotel. It is the only Rest Stop along the Techiman-Tamale highway. The partial lockdown of Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi, and Kasoa as well as restricted movement of commercial vehicles have reduced vehicular traffic on the Tamale road, particularly buses to and from Accra and Kumasi.

This situation, the manager explained, has resulted in a significant reduction of patronage at the Rest Stop, indicating that “on average we used to record about 26 commercial buses daily, but now the number has dropped to two buses a day”. He hinted that management might consider closing the Rest Stop as well as well in the coming days.

In a broader perspective, as the hotel sector wobbles as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, B&FT on March 24 reported that the sector is seeking some GH¢324million monthly as a stimulus package to keep them open and sustain jobs.

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A proposal document, which was expected to be forwarded to the Finance Ministry, pegs the number of hotels across all stars at 3,000. Out of the figure, up-market hotels – which covers three- to five-star hotels – make up about seven percent or 210; while one- and two-star hotels account for about 33 percent or 990; and budget hotels account for 60 percent or 1,800 of the total figure.

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