Spain’s tourism industry objects to restrictions
In Spain, where coronavirus cases have fallen and a gradual de-escalation is taking place, authorities are now concerned that international travel could cause a new spike in infections. In a bid to prevent a fresh COVID-19 crisis in one of the world’s hardest-hit countries, the government has instituted self-quarantine orders for international travelers; it also wants to limit airline passenger seat occupancy. The restrictions have been met with opposition from the tourism industry, which is already reeling from the effects of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown. Airlines are refusing to leave seats unfilled because it is not profitable, while the hotel industry has complained about the 14-day quarantine for international travelers that will go into effect on Friday, saying it will further damage tourism.
Four Seasons, Johns Hopkins to create health program
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is collaborating with Johns Hopkins Medicine International, the global division of Johns Hopkins Medicine, to review and validate the hotel company’s new global health and safety program, Lead With Care. The two organizations formed an advisory board that will create procedures and guide training to implement the program at Four Seasons properties, building on the early experience of some of its properties that have been providing accommodation to high-risk medical personnel addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The program addresses enhanced cleanliness, new approaches to guest safety and employee training.
Many open Hawaii hotels agree to single-use keys
Most of the 91 hotels open throughout Hawaii have agreed to a new initiative aimed at keeping tourists in their rooms during the 14-day mandatory quarantine. A Hawaii Tourism Authority report sent to the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 shows that of those 91 contacted, 63 agreed to the practice of issuing tourists a one-time use key upon check-in. The idea behind this is that, if the visitors leave the room, they would be locked out and need to contact the front desk to get another key.
Early signs in Australia and New Zealand indicate promise
According to a CBRE analysis on the impacts of COVID-19 on the hotel sector across Australia and New Zealand, for the week ending May 2, average occupancy rates (based on rooms still open) for Sydney (about 20%), Brisbane (about 25%) and Melbourne (about 30%) have increased slightly over the past fortnight. ?There has been some evidence of asset purchases during this period, highlighted by the sale of the Ibis Melbourne Little Bourke Street and Devonport Waterfront Hotel. Large institutional investors such as Blackstone are well placed to capitalize on such opportunities within the sector, having already purchased a 10% stake in Crown Holdings in April. Hotels are expected to benefit from the material reduction in the Airbnb market, as a significant number of Airbnb hosts are relisting their properties on longer-term rental sites such as Domain, which has seen surges in listings in Airbnb holiday hotspots. New bookings on Airbnb dropped by more than 75% over the impacted period.
Dubai reopens parks, hotel beaches
In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has allowed public parks to reopen and hotel guests to access private beaches, state media said, as the emirate gradually lifts restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus. Dubai, the most populous of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, eased a full curfew to eight hours at night on April 24, and allowed dine-in restaurants and shopping malls to reopen at limited capacity. Public parks are now open for groups and hotel guests must practice physical distancing at beaches.
The challenge of re-opening
Hotel management company Michels & Taylor has developed a hotel re-opening plan designed to prepare hotels for the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, additionally outlining an operational and commercial checklist of issues a hotel should consider for reopening the business. This touches on everything from the new “check-in to check-out” customer journey subject to government guidance and social distancing, to the commercial and sales strategy that hotels will need to consider when opening.
U.S. appetite for travel post-COVID-19? It will take time
More than one in four U.S. adults say travel is among the activities they are excited to return to when COVID-19 restrictions finally begin to lift. A survey by independent marketing, advertising and public relations agency Mower reveals that 60 days will pass before a majority of Americans will feel comfortable returning to most travel-related activities. The study indicates that it will be 30 days before half of Americans anticipate feeling comfortable taking a vacation by car and 60 days before half will fly in a plane. Only 42% are inclined to travel internationally by day 60, and 22% say they have never or would never venture beyond the U.S.