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Wed 27 May 2020 12:24 PM

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Accor sees positive signs in UAE, Saudi amid 800 job cuts in Middle East and Africa

Accor, which operates 5,000 hotels in 110 countries, has furloughed three-quarters of its staff after shutting hotels due to the pandemic

Accor sees positive signs in UAE, Saudi amid 800 job cuts in Middle East and Africa

Though hotels in the UAE have been full at a reduced capacity, Accor doesn’t plan to increase prices for the time being, Willis said.

Accor SA sees signs of demand recovery for hotels in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and plans to regain customers by investing in new technology to ensure safety amid the global pandemic, according to its chief executive office for the Middle East and Africa.

While the global environment remains tough for the industry, positive signs are starting to appear in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Mark Willis said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday. “You can feel the positive vibe in Dubai specifically.”

The hotel operator plans to attract visitors by focusing on technology that ensures safety, such as touchless check-in and checkout operations, as well as online menus and communication with guests via WhatsApp, Willis said. “The environment has changed dramatically but that’s something we just need to deal with and not be afraid of.”

Gulf Arab nations have started to ease lockdown measures. Saudi Arabia plans to curb restrictions gradually and to return to normal by June 21. Dubai has shortened nightly curbs on movement and allowed businesses such as gyms and cinemas to reopen. Kuwait also announced it won’t renew its 24-hour curfew.

Still, research firm STR Global estimates that 30% of jobs in Dubai’s hotel industry are likely to be lost over the summer until demand recovers.

Though hotels in the UAE have been full at a reduced capacity, Accor doesn’t plan to increase prices for the time being, Willis said. “Obviously prices are driven by demand and over the next 6 months, 9 months before we return to some form of normality, that demand will return, but it will return in a slow fashion.”

Accor, which operates 5,000 hotels in 110 countries, has furloughed three-quarters of its staff, or roughly 220,000 people, after shutting hotels due to the pandemic. The group has made 800 jobs redundant in the Middle East and Africa, Willis said.

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