The world has been shaken up by the COVID-19 pandemic, but tourism stakeholders are doing all that’s in their power to keep going. Speaking to Tatiana Tsierkezou exclusively, chief operating officer, Swiss International Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & North Africa, Shady Boueiry sheds light on the hotel group’s plan of action and shares a message of unity and faith
TTG: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Swiss International Hotels & Resorts and what is the hotel group doing to overcome it?
COVID-19 has affected the world, but especially the hospitality Industry. Our occupancy levels have dropped dramatically, reaching 10 per cent in some areas. This is very normal in such a crisis and we have taken preventive precautions to minimise its negative impact on our operation. We have seized all operational expenses; closed floors at our properties and started our preventive maintenance; transferred staff to other properties with high occupancy that are in need of staff; we are finalising all due A/L balances of our staff; and our hotels are fully cooperating in order to transfer goods and requests from one property to the other.
TTG: What is the situation like in your destination at the moment?
Occupancy dropped all over Saudi Arabia reaching an average of 20-30 per cent in some areas.
TTG: What measures are you taking to ensure your guests are safe and comfortable?
We have taken all safety measures and published safety awareness messages inside our properties. All staff members are taking extensive measures and working with extreme safety and precautions.
A disinfection treatment is implemented on a daily basis and we are dealing with a very reputable company, ‘BOEKER’, to conduct these treatments. We have also installed sanitizer and hygienic masks across all public areas of the hotels.
TTG: What message would you like to send to those staying with you over the next few weeks?
I would like to address a message for all guests that you are safe and your comfort is our priority. For more assurance, I invite them all to visit our social media pages to see the videos we are posting, which are related to their safety and highlight the security measures we are taking.
TTG: Please send a short, positive message to the rest of the travel and tourism industry!
It’s a short period of time and this will pass. It’s a wakeup call for our industry to work on emergency management plans on a yearly basis and set a budget for it.
I also advise my fellow colleagues in this industry to put hygiene and safety as their top priority in their daily operations. COVID-19 is a wakeup call for taking such measures.
On a positive note, I advise my industry colleagues to stay safe, protect your employees and don’t terminate their services. Use this crisis to train them, gain their loyalty and develop their skills. Our crew has been beside us in the good times, and we need to be beside them during this crisis.
We will not shutdown any property for now. We will overcome this crisis with unity and faith!