Almost half of the hoteliers in Córdoba think of a definitive closure if the isolation due to the Covid-19 virus is not lifted in the next three months. The sector requests that an emergency be declared to reduce operating costs, because even the opening of the establishments does not ensure subsistence.
According to a survey by the Hotel and Gastronomic Federation of the Argentine Republic (Feghra), which brings together small and medium-sized establishments, 65 percent of hotel entrepreneurs will not be able to continue if the situation is not normalized; Of this group, 75.7 percent (49.2 percent of the total) assures that it will be in a final closure situation in one to three months.
The sector warns that these businesses are unfeasible without the national Emergency Assistance for Work and Production (ATP) program, which pays half the salary.
The hotel industry registered year-on-year falls in the activity level of 83 percent in April and the same percentage in May, while it projects another 79 percent drop for June.
The Indec Hotel Occupancy Survey presented today reflects in Córdoba and throughout the country zero occupancy in April and a fall of one hundred percent.
For its part, the Association of Tourism Hotels of the Argentine Republic (Ahtra), with 330 four and five star hotels and establishments boutique, after doing the same survey, found that 40 percent are thinking of stopping working.
It should be remembered that in March, as soon as the quarantine started, the Interplaza hotel closed in the Center of Córdoba. Last weekend Happy Hostel did the same, in Nueva Córdoba, whose owner, Gabriel González, put a sign on the door as an epitaph: “QEPD. Here lie the remains of an Argentine SME. ”
Both Feghra and Ahtra are calling for the sector to be declared emergency, to reduce the tax burden and thus reduce operating costs, because the projected occupancy levels for the post-pandemic era do not ensure continuity.
It is estimated that a hotel with 50 to 60 rooms in Córdoba needs a monthly billing of three to 3.5 million pesos, while a 150-room hotel should reach five million pesos.
“Even when opening, subsistence is not guaranteed. It happens to gastronomic establishments, which open their doors and barely reach 15 or 20 percent occupancy, with which they cannot even cover essential operating costs, ”explains Alejandro Moroni, in charge of the Central Region of Feghra.
Although the establishments have ATPs, not all have access to loans at a subsidized rate. Meanwhile, even without invoicing, they must pay for services (gas, electricity, mainly), maintenance and, in some localities, the minimum of the municipal rate of Commerce and Industry.
“Today the sector needs an emergency to ease tax obligations. But, in addition, incentives must be generated, for which we ask that travel expenses be deductible from Income Tax, ”says Roberto Amengual, president of Ahtra and Amerian, the hotel chain born in Córdoba.
Runners in white areas
The hotel industry brings together 17,000 establishments in the country that employ 80,000 people directly or indirectly. In Córdoba, it is estimated that there are 3,500 formally recognized hotels and 35,000 workers, so this situation has put more than 17,000 jobs at risk at the provincial level.
In this framework, Athra prepared a protocol for the hotel sector, which recommends placing information on social distancing measures in easily visible places; hand hygiene with gel alcohol and water and alcohol solutions; the digitization of the procedures of check in and check out, and a series of actions in the presence of suspicious symptoms of coronavirus, both for staff and travelers.
In turn, it signed an alliance with Swiss Medical to give security to its employees.
But, in addition, it elaborated a proposal that it is presenting to the authorities to create “tourist corridors” in the “white” areas of the country, from the northwest to the south of Argentina, so that the hotels can receive travelers who live in areas not affected by the coronavirus.
“The idea is to open the establishments in the winter holidays. For that, it is necessary to articulate with the protocol of the airlines. But it is essential to announce it a month before; otherwise, the hotels will not be able to organize reservations ”, warns Amengual.
It was the average stay and the level of overnight stay in hotels in Córdoba in April, according to the Indec Hotel Occupancy Survey.
They are the direct and indirect jobs generated by hotels and legally recognized accommodation in Córdoba. In the country, it is estimated that there are 80,000 workers.
The original text of this article was published on 06/24/2020 in our printed edition.