India cancels almost all visas: India said on Wednesday it will suspend the vast majority of visas to the country until mid-April as the number of cases in the region topped 80. National airline Air India said it was suspending flights to Italy and South Korea late March; and the country has closed its border with Myanmar. Experts fear that India’s medical systems may not be able to handle a potential widespread outbreak.
Pandemic declared: The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” the organization’s director-general said at a media briefing on Wednesday.
U.S. RevPAR decline for early March: U.S. hotels lost 11.6% in RevPAR last week, with urban gateways hardest hit by the fallout from coronavirus, according to data from Baird Equity Research. Nationwide, YOY occupancy was off 7.3% and ADR down 4.6%. San Francisco, Anaheim, Seattle, New York and New Orleans posted the worst performance. “We expect RevPAR growth trends broadly to deteriorate further from this initial week’s decline,” the company said, noting that cancellations and travel restrictions are growing exponentially.
U.K. hotels likely to get relief: The U.K.’s chancellor of the exchequer tucked several measures into a budget designed to prop up at least some hotels losing business over coronavirus. Most of the benefits accrue to smaller operations. They include reimbursement for sick pay for hotels with 250 or fewer employees, small business interruption loans, lower interest rates and a freeze on alcoholic beverage duties. “Despite this budget being described as ‘the biggest giveaway in 30 years,’ there is sadly little to bring much short- or longer-term cheer to the vast majority of regular hotel owners, investors and operators within the UK,’ said Russell Kett, chairman of HVS London.
Accor RevPAR sees virus impact: Accor announced that since it published its 2019 results in February, February itself saw a decline: RevPAR in February was down by 10.2% due to the virus, with a €20 million (US$22 million) impact on EBITDA. “Since the last week of February, we have seen a strong acceleration of the decline in the activity across Europe, particularly in Italy, France and Germany,” according to a press release. The company has “implemented material savings measures to mitigate the downturn in activity and and benefits from a robust financial position,” the statement said. “This means we can confidently tackle the situation and accelerate our share buyback program while maintaining our investment grade commitment.”
Costa Del Sol hotel in lockdown: A group of mostly American tourists, who were infected with coronavirus from their tour guide, have been quarantined for 14 days at the Sol Don Hotel in Torremolinos, Spain. The nine tourists have not exhibited symptoms but will be monitored during the lockdown.
MGM curbs Vegas buffets: Temporary victims of coronavirus are the buffets, a hallmark of many Las Vegas hotels. MGM International announced it would shut buffets down at seven Strip properties beginning Monday, March 16, and review their status on a week-to-week basis. Only four cases of coronavirus have been reported in Nevada.
- Xenia Hotels & Resorts joins the parade of hospitality companies that have withdrawn their previously issued full-year 2020 guidance based on the financial impact of COVID-19. Since February 24, the company has sustained cancelations worth U.S.$15 million in revenue.
- The New York City hotel workers union is offering coronavirus testing to its members and their families. More than 90,000 people are eligible. By the end of the week those eligible will be able to get tested at their health plan’s medical centers for free.
- Encore Boston Harbor will start screening temperatures of employees and guests entering the resort. Anyone with a temperature above 100 degrees will be referred to medical professionals. The hotel will also require staff to stay at home at the first signs of illness.