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Covid-19 drains hotel business

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Michael Usi

The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on the hospitality industry with major players in the sector resorting to lay off employees.

The Business Times has established that Blantyre Hotels Limited which manages Ryalls Hotel is planning to fire 44 employees today according to inside sources.

Our sources further indicate that 10 of the employees who will be shown the exit door are among top managers of the hotel.

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In an interview Ryalls hotel Managing Director, David Church, said the hotel business has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Due to the massive impact of Covid 19, we are currently undertaking a retrenchment process that is fully compliant with all requirements. Once the process has been fully completed we will issue an updated statement,” Church said.

In a separate interview Umodzi Park Resorts Finance Director, Charles Merrick, said business has drastically slowed with only five out of the over 130 rooms being booked.

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He said this has been the situation since April this year and all the income from debtors which the hotel has been surviving on has been exhausted.

“We have not firmed up on the numbers to let go but retrenchment is the last resort. We have cut costs in many areas and made other sacrifices so that we keep the operations going. We are also aware that with the inadequate income you cannot rule out retrenchments.

“We have communicated to employees beforehand should the situation remain the same we will have to regrettably retrench. We have also asked for financial assistance from the government and we are yet to hear from them,” Merrick said.

Chief Executive Officer for Sunbird Hotels and Resorts, Yusuf Olela, said in a separate interview that the hotel has no plans to retrench its employees at the moment.

“We effected a pay cut in May and we also retrenched people in April and since that time there has not been any discussion with the authorities on any further retrenchments,” Olela said.

Minister of Tourism, Michael Usi, said the retrenchment drive being undertaken by players in the sector is a means of keeping the businesses afloat.

He urged the companies to consider hiring the same people once the situation normalises.

“What Malawi is doing is to actually find ways of mitigating the impact of the pandemic and one way is to allow players manage their businesses in a way that they do not lose out. What these players are doing, is aimed at keeping the business afloat.

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