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Think tank proposes plan to save UAE’s hospitality sector

Delores Johnson / The National

A number of UAE’s most prominent industry representatives took part in a report the UAE Hospitality Think Tank published that lays out a plan to boost the hospitality sector through the post-COVID-19 economy.

The report, entitled “The Way Ahead for Hospitality”, sets 15 steps that would save the sector which they say “needs support” if the authorities followed them.

In terms of crisis support, the report called on authorities to provide a 25 – 50 percent subsidy for staff accommodation costs and waive employment permit and visa charges, taxes, including municipality and VAT, and suspend non-essential security enhancements. The plan also said that banks should provide greater support and flexibility on key terms for facilities to the industry.

In terms of collaboration, the plan called for establishing an official industry body that aims to provide a forum and a voice for the hospitality sector to encourage greater collaboration and unity, and to work on behalf of all hoteliers in the UAE.

The plan also called for introducing a national and/or emirate-level hotel development strategy that manages hotels and other hospitality assets supply in a holistic way and ensure appropriate assets are available to meet future needs.

Introducing new legislation and establish an industry body aiming at supporting the adoption of new technology across the UAE hospitality sector, is also needed according to the plane, in addition to introducing flexible employment regulation to allow for part-time workers and employment of staff from a wider range of countries.

“The regional hospitality sector already faces multiple headwinds, and the pandemic has only further impacted the industry with factors such as the global economic environment, low oil prices, struggling tourist numbers and oversupply,” Joel Van Dusen, head of corporate and investment banking group at Mashreq Bank, said.

“Despite this, there are numerous opportunities which can be leveraged to make the industry a more sustainable proposition for the foreseeable future”.

Took part in preparing the report representatives of Mashreq, MEED, Abu Dhabi National Hotels’ Ansarai Hospitality, Colliers International, Five Hotels and Resorts, Golden Sands Hotels, HAMA, HVS, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, and RAK Hospitality Holding.

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