During the panel Realities of the Venezuelan and Colombian Hotel Sector Talks, held on Wednesday, July 15, representatives of both countries highlighted the need for the governments to support airlines, hotels, transport companies since the world economy has paralyzed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president of the Venezuelan Five Star Hotel Association (Avecintel in Spanish), Leonardo Gomez Vivas, explained to the virtual audience that the sector felt the impact of the closure of the national economy due to the arrival of the virus in Venezuela.
He explained that several five-star hotels have received returning migrants, health personnel, and officials of the Armed Forces since late March, in the so-called plan of isolation of COVID-19.
However, the Maduro regime has repeatedly refused to cover even the basics costs of the stay, Gomez said.
“The authorities have not been willing to pay for the occupied rooms, not even at cost prices, something we proposed,” he said.
“They have not told us that they will not pay, but there are no answers either. The most logical and right thing to do is the service provider does not assume the cost or impact. There should be a consideration at a fair rate, including the cost value of what the operation represents. Entrepreneurs have a limit, and we are about to approach breaking with this initial scheme (of non-payment to hotels),” said the president of Avecintel.
He added: “We have given a show of solidarity, of open doors to receive fellow countrymen, people in isolation, health personnel and officials of the Armed Forces, who have been in our hotels. We have to put a limit on that, there is no payment by the people who are staying or by the National Executive”, he said, adding that if there an agreement they could be able to offer a special quarantine rate.
Tourism without mobility makes no sense
The situation in neighboring Colombia has been dramatically different for hoteliers, industry sources told El Pitazo, with properties taking a hit in terms of price but with the government of Ivan Duque also shouldering some of the burdens.
Gustavo Toro, president of the Hotel and Tourism Association of Colombia (Cotelco in Spanish), explained that in his country, there are clients who have had to stay in quarantine in the few hotels that are providing services.
“The sector is stopped for four months and has been very hard, but we are continuing to work for a safe and reliable reopening when it is possible. We have offered our clients quarantine rates, which are very supportive and almost at cost price. The government of President Ivan Duque has supported a program to house the doctors, nurses, and personnel of the state security agencies, who are fighting COVID-19. The government has paid the costs of these accommodations, also at solidarity prices,” Toro said.
The two businessmen pointed out that the reopening of the tourism sector must be gradual and flexible to reactivate the industry, one of the most affected by COVID-19.
In this sense, Gustavo Toro pointed out: “Governments must establish a schedule for the opening of the skies for the national and international flights. Tourism without mobility does not make sense.”