The economy is being hit hard by Covid-19, and this is especially true for the hospitality industry. After the full lockdown of major cities, tourist arrivals have plunged like never before in Thailand, Japan, the United States, and many other countries. The outbreak of the virus directly results in significantly lower revenues for hotels; however, the virus need not act as a barrier preventing hotels from making a contribution to the fight against the disease. All over the world, hotels are mobilizing in support of the public health authorities to do what they can to mitigate the situation.
In Thailand, Asset World Corporation (AWC) has announced the closure of five of its own hotels in Bangkok including Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok Hotel, Le Meridien Bangkok Hotel, The Okura Prestige Hotel Bangkok, and the Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse. The closures were part of their effort to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Moreover, AWC has promised its 2000 employees to continue providing them with their normal salaries, on the condition that the employees remain in Bangkok and avoid travel to other provinces.
In the United States, a similar program to help hospitality staff was launched by the Standard Hotels. While recognizing that the hotels’ closures would dramatically reduce its annual income, the Standard went forward with the decision regardless. Currently, it is setting up a relief fund for its employees who would otherwise be struggling to purchase daily necessities in this trying time.
Also in the US, Hilton and American Express have joined forces to offer free accommodation to doctors, nurses, and other frontline medical professionals who need to rest between shifts or isolate themselves from their families while fighting the virus. Hilton’s franchisees and independent owners will provide the rooms at or below cost, assisted by the support from American Express. Hotel staff have received guidance on how to keep themselves and their guests safe, and will be using specialized cleaning procedures to protect everyone concerned. The scheme is to run initially until the end of May.
In the United Kingdom, 42 Apart Hotel has promised to provide free accommodation for one week to medical personnel who wish to quarantine themselves from their families, and would not seek to make any profit from longer stays. Many other hotels all over the world have since followed suit, ensuring that medical staff and their families are looked after in the days ahead.
With limited resources to combat the virus, countless governments are reaching out to hotels to ask for their cooperation. Hotels in big cities are beginning to respond,closing temporarily to normal guests, and converting into quarantine facilities or providing shelter to those in need. Among other cities around the globe, Chicago announced a plan to rent over 1,000 rooms for people who have been exposed to Covid-19 but do not require intensive medical care.
Despite the devastating impact hotels are experiencing, it is a relief to see them lending a helping hand when society needs it most.