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People & Profit – Stay or go? Hotel industry faces new Covid-19 challenges

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The hotel chain Marriott has said bookings at its South African locations have been hit by new Covid-19 travel restrictions, but that they have “not seen a huge number of cancellations as yet”. President Cyril Ramaphosa has criticised the travel bans imposed on his country and its neighbours after the Omicron variant was first identified there. Marriott’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) President, Satya Anand, told FRANCE 24 that the company is hopeful the effects will merely be temporary.

“These are early days,” he said. “I think people are waiting to see what is going to happen.”

Anand added it was “tough to say” how long the impact of the latest round of Covid-19 travel restrictions would be felt by the hotel industry.

“What we are seeing is that the cycle is getting shorter. Previously it look longer for people to adapt. Since the pandemic we have changed a number of ways of working. We have become more agile, more localised. So we’re quick to respond to these kind of crises.”

This latest news comes as the UN’s World Tourism Organization warned the sector would lose around €1.8 trillion for a second year in a row due to the pandemic.

The agency said that 2019 was the best year on record for the tourism industry, and 2020 was the worst.

“We have never experienced like this, ever,” Anand told FRANCE 24’s Stephen Carroll, but said a recovery had begun in recent months.

“There are markets which are performing better and there are markets which are performing less well. But overall I think the trend is good.”

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