SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) – Hotel occupancy here has been badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Cancellations are on the rise and some hotels have to chalk up additional expenses to clean and disinfect rooms.
Mr Arthur Kiong, chief executive of Far East Hospitality Management, which manages both outlets of Oasia Hotel at Downtown in Tanjong Pagar and Novena, and Village Hotel Sentosa, said that since the first case here on Jan 23, cancellations have peaked.
Mr Kiong said Oasia Hotel’s occupancy rate has fallen sharply.
It is not sustainable in the long run, he said, adding that the hotel relies heavily on Chinese travellers for business.
He said: “From the onset, 20 per cent of our business has been wiped out.
“We are holding our breath to see how business will pick up in the coming months.”
On Jan 30, it was announced that the 13th confirmed case, a 73-year-old female Chinese national from Wuhan, stayed at Oasia Hotel Downtown.
The hotel had to disinfect the room.
The Singapore Tourism Board had announced that it would pay up to 50 per cent for third-party professional cleaning services at hotels, capped at $20,000 for those with confirmed cases and $10,000 for those with suspected cases, backdated to Jan 20 this year.
When asked if the Government’s relief measures would help, Mr Kiong said: “What the Government has currently offered is a thoughtful gesture, but it’s not going to change the picture significantly.
“This crisis is going to be here for the long term.”
Mr Kiong, who has been in the hotel industry for almost 40 years, had seen how the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in 2003 had impacted businesses here.
“The best thing we can do now is prepare for the future,” he said.
The cost of cleaning and disinfecting a room with a confirmed case is approximately $2,000.
Mr Patrick Fiat, general manager of Royal Plaza on Scotts, told The New Paper that the Government’s efforts to defray the cleaning costs were reasonable, though the scale and cost of cleaning will vary across establishments.
Mr Fiat said additional costs for precautionary measures – such as temperature screening and disinfecting public areas – are being borne by the hotel, which has had more than 1,000 cancellations since the outbreak.
Mr Kieran Twomey, group chief operating officer of Millennium Hotels and Resorts, which operates Copthorne King’s Hotel and M Hotel, among others, also said its hotels have seen a loss in revenue due to cancellations, but he did not reveal figures.
Ms Kwee Weilin, president of the Singapore Hotel Association, said: “There may be a blip this year but with concerted effort from all tourism stakeholders including the government agencies, we are hopeful that we can turn the corner swiftly, as we did for Sars.”
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