Smaller hotel groups and independent accommodation establishments are doing all they can to stay afloat during the global COVID-19 pandemic, and this includes leveraging on their lower cost structures.

“While the COVID-19-induced lockdown has severely affected our operations and business in general, we see tremendous opportunities for growing our business at the same time,” says ANEW Hotels and Resorts CEO, Clinton Armour

Armour told Tourism Update that flexibility, relationships, and adapting to the changes, combined with its skill-set, are what is giving this hotel group the confidence to push through and look ahead.

“Many hotels, outside of the large hotel chains, also have high cost structures that are not going to be sustainable for the future,” said Armour. “We are committed to not only ensure our hotels survive through this time, but are better positioned for the future post-COVID-19.”

CEO of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa), Lee Zama, said this was a tough period for all, with the association doing all it could to support the industry.

“We hope to ensure that they make applications to the various support funds made available. We want all accommodation establishments to use this time to plan for post lockdown opening,” said Zama. “These would mean relooking at all cost structures, marketing plans, skills required and, more importantly, the implementation of safety protocols against COVID-19.”

She said almost all the properties in its systems had volunteered as quarantine facilities. “Fedhasa has been working with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and has negotiated a cost recovery price, which all establishments would charge the government for quarantine,” said Zama.

“Fedhasa is working alongside the TBCSA to track the UIF TERS applications and providing guidance to members, as well as finalising the safety guidelines and protocols that would be implemented across the hospitality sector.”

Zama said Fedhasa expected domestic tourism to lead in the tourism industry’s recovery. “The recovery of the hospitality sector is linked to the overall country tourism activity.  All our inputs have been channelled through the TBCSA as we represent the sector in this council.”

Armour believes that great-value travel experiences will be highly sought after by South Africans post-COVID-19. “ANEW has a good understanding and knowledge of the South African market and its sensitivity to pricing, and has ensured its ability to pitch its products correctly to the local market, offering great value and affordable experiences.”