restaurant tables

At the 83rd HOTREC General Assembly in Lyon this week, delegates voiced their grave concerns for the sector’s viability and urged policymakers to ramp up support actions.

HOTREC is the umbrella Association of Hotels, Restaurants, Bars and Cafes and similar establishments in Europe, which brings together 45 national associations in 34 countries, and is the voice of the hospitality industry in Europe.

“The European hospitality industry is severely concerned by a resurgence of infection rates and lockdown measures,’ HOTREC Europe said.

Indeed, the classification of the Omicron COVID variant as one of concern, and the rise in COVID daily transmission rates across Europe, resulting in semi-lockdowns and added restrictions, is causing the wider business community serious concern.

In line with this sentiment, the HOTREC General Assembly focused discussions on how to avoid further losses and help businesses survive and remain viable.

In Malta, indications appear to point towards Government holding its ground by not adding restrictions for now, however should hospital rates start to climb, it is likely that a more serious discussion on re-introducing restrictions would unfold.

The worst of the crisis is not behind us

In a statement, HOTREC highlighted how over the past two years, the hospitality and catering sector has shown “considerable resilience” and “fully complied” with restrictions and health and safety protocols, to continue welcoming guests.

“Nonetheless, as the COVID crisis enters its 20th month, hospitality establishments are still the first and hardest hit.”

The worst of the crisis is not behind us: the pandemic is not over, and many businesses which depend on subsections that are not fully back on track – such as business travel and MICE – will continue to suffer for an unknown period. While being fully committed to the long-term goals of sustainability, digitalization, and retaining the workforce, HOTREC stressed that to achieve these objectives, we must first and foremost ensure survival

Participants at the General Assembly agreed that the sector needs urgent financial support to endure a new wave of restrictions and medium-term support to face future setbacks and facilitate the digital and sustainable transition. It is also crucial to further coordinate measures and efforts against COVID-19 at the European level with the full engagement and support of EU Member States.

“Our General Assembly came at a delicate time for the industry: after two years of nonstop challenges and at the beginning of another Coronavirus wave,” commented Jens Zimmer Christensen, President of HOTREC. “Now more than ever, we must continue to support the millions of businesses, SMEs, and workers that keep facing hardships and uncertainty. We learnt the hard way that reopening is not the same as recovery.”

Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association is a full member of HOTREC and is being represented by President Tony Zahra and CEO Andrew Agius Muscat at the General Assembly in Lyon.

Mr Agius Muscat was also one of the main speakers in a panel discussion on Social Affairs and Human Resources challenges in the tourism & hospitality sector.

He remarked that “Public financing has been crucial for the hospitality industry in Malta to retain people while international travel was shut down”. He added that “By launching the Winning.training platform, we used this time to train people & obtain new skills to be ready to welcome guests right at the first opportunity.”

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