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Coronavirus outbreak: Ghana’s hospitality industry feeling the heat

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Ghana, two cases of coronavirus,

The hospitality industry in Ghana is already experiencing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak as they are recording low numbers even though the country is yet to officially record any.

The hotels whose clients are mainly Chinese are the hardest hit as the Chinese are unable to return to Ghana due to the outbreak of the disease in China. Again, restaurants that are managed by the Chinese are either closed or running low on staff as the Chinese are yet to return to work since they left for the Christmas and lunar holidays last December.

The vice president of the Ghana Progressive Hotels Association, Pastor Emmanuel Geadda-Asando, told Businessweek that though the disease is not yet here, “some members of the association are already feeling the heat”.

He added that “Our Chinese clients are unable to return and this has greatly impacted on are business…we pray that the disease is brought under control as soon as possible”.

He observed that some of the hotels which used to be 80% full at all times is now operating between 30% and 40%. Per a research undertaken by the association last year, a member hotel with a one star rating operating at 100% is estimated to make an annual income of GH¢785,425 but the outbreak of the coronavirus has greatly impacted on the first quarter figures of these hoteliers and this also has implication on their tax obligations.

Preventing an outbreak

According to the vice president, the association has started training its frontline and housekeeping staff on how to properly handle themselves to avoid contracting and spreading the virus should it get to the shores of Ghana.

He added that “We are procuring nose and mouth guards for our frontline staff and additional protective gears for our housekeeping staff”

We are also meeting next week to review our strategies, he hinted.

Interventions

The International Labour Organization (ILO) under SKILL UP Project, funded by the Government of Norway, in collaboration with Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), held capacity building workshops to support the mitigation of the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector in southern and middle Ghana.

Read also: Coronavirus may impact Chinese investment in Ghana — Lloyd Amoah

These workshops focus on knowledge sharing and skills development in the following areas: business recovery plan, digital marketing post COVID-19, health and safety at work, risk preparedness and management, and supply chain and stock control management.  They were opportunities to restore hope and confidence among participants, leading them to take steps to assist workers at immediate risk of losing their livelihoods.

With significant potential to drive economic growth and job creation, the tourism sector is increasingly an area of focus for investment in Ghana. While the Bank of Ghana lists the sector as the fourth-highest foreign currency earner behind gold, cocoa and remittances, Ghana still has some way to go to become a destination of choice on the continent. In 2017 the sector contributed GHS12.58bn ($2.7bn), or 6.2%, to national GDP. A total of 1.3m international tourists visited the country that same year, representing a 6% increase compared to 2016. In terms of employment, the World Travel and Tourism Council reported that the sector supported 682,000 jobs, or 5.3% of total national employment, in 2017.

Priority sector

The government regards tourism as one of the economic pillars for growth, job creation and diplomacy. In his 2018 speech addressing the nation, President Nana Akufo-Addo promised to support Ghana’s tourism sector with infrastructure investments. The 2019 budget demonstrated a commitment to achieving this goal by allocating GHS75m ($16.2m) to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC). President Akufo-Addo also highlighted the need to support capacity-building efforts to help the population learn skills relevant to the tourism and hospitality industry.

Background

The 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak is an ongoing public health emergency of international concern involving coronavirus disease 2019. It is caused by SARS-CoV-2, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China. As of 5 March 2020, more than 98,000 cases have been confirmed, of which 7,100 were classified as serious. 89 countries and territories have been affected, with major outbreaks in Central China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. More than 3,300 people have died: just over 3,000 in mainland China and around 300 in other countries. More than 53,000 people have recovered.

The virus primarily spreads between people in a similar way to influenza, via respiratory droplets produced during coughing or sneezing. The time between exposure and symptom onset is typically five days, but may range from two to fourteen days. Symptoms may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment, though research is ongoing. Efforts are aimed at managing symptoms and supportive therapy. Recommended preventive measures include hand washing, maintaining distance from people who are sick, monitoring and self-isolation for fourteen days for people who suspect they are infected.

Public health responses in China and around the world have included travel restrictions, quarantines, and curfews. These have included the lockdown of Hubei and various curfew measures in China; the quarantine of a British cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japanese waters; as well as lockdowns in Italy. Some airports and train stations have instituted screening methods such as temperature checks and health declaration forms. Several countries have issued advisories warning against travel to regions with ongoing community transmission, such as Central China, Italy, and Iran. Schools have been closed for at least 290 million children, including all schools and various universities in China, Iran, Japan, and Italy.

Source: Kofi Ahovi//Businessweekghana.com

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