The Uncertainty of Service Staff and Recruitment Issues in the Hospitality IndustryNovember 21, 2021
COVID-19: Accounting for its CostNovember 21, 2021
Article by the Association of Catering Establishments (ACE)
Most catering establishments claim that with the
COVID-19 Government voucher scheme they have
maintained revenues, if not increased, during the
summer period. There is a minority who claims
otherwise and the odd few that did not accept the
vouchers. Others have been creative and added
loyalty and discount schemes to the vouchers
issued by the Government.
A number of members
of the Association of Catering Establishments
participated in an additional voucher scheme
complementing the Government vouchers. To
assist further the Government have continued to
issue the wage supplements.
It would have been an extremely good summer
should the 11 July 2021 panic measures have
not occurred. Indeed, the number of tourist
reservations was encouraging, until then, given
the circumstances - thanks to the excellent
work done by the Malta Tourism Authority and
stakeholders at large. In spite of all, Malta has
still recorded a considerable number of visitors
with September showing positive statistics.
To a certain extent one may
say that a larger number of
tourists may have damaged
Malta’s reputation given that
the hospitality industry has
not recovered in terms of
number of staff leaving the
industry or leaving Malta. It is
estimated that approximately
30,000 persons left the
hospitality sector. Therefore,
many hotels and catering
establishments ended up
with skeleton staff and could not serve a larger
number of customers. The challenge is still here
- even due to travelling restrictions.
During the last two years Malta has lost some
20 percent of catering establishments in spite
of the positive measures aforementioned.
Businesses take decisions on a longer term
than the three Summer months. Many catering
establishments had – and still have - exorbitant
rents whereby many landlords failed to
recognise the unprecedented circumstances.
Furthermore, there are other fixed costs
throughout the year and also during the closure
of restaurants or when people were afraid to go
out to dine. Consequently, some had to call it a day and close shop in order to mitigate the
Needless to say most of those who survived
did so predominantly thanks to the voucher
scheme and also to the wage supplements.
A common concern now is what will happen
post-September, when the effect of vouchers
has been diluted and the low season kicks off.
Will the sales be maintained
to cover the costs and the
effects of the months of
closure? Moreover, what
will happen in January 2022
when the wage supplements
will be stopped?
The main concern however,
is what will happen if there
is a strong third wave. Most
cannot sustain a third closure.
The Health Authorities
cannot but consider this important factor
and perhaps refrain from taking decisions
which are not based on scientific research.
For a number of months the Association of
Catering Establishments has been calling for
scientific evidence that the virus is transmitted
aggressively in catering establishments.
Despite this not being provided, catering
establishments were for various months the
sacrificial lamb and were imposed significant
measures and two long closure periods. It is
time to reduce measures further given the 91%
vaccination rate. A third closure cannot happen
as certainly there will be irrecoverable long term
damage to the industry.
Reuben Buttigieg is the President of the Association of Catering Establishments,
Managing Director of Erremme Business Advisors and President of the Malta
Institute of Management.
ACE (Association of Catering Establishments) represents a wide spectrum of entrepreneurs ploughing their trade in either of the following commercial outlets: snack bars, cafes, kiosks, casual diners, catering operations located within clubs, fast food take-away, food delivery outlets and fine dining restaurants.
For more information visit https://acemalta.org.mt
Click here to see Horeca Issue 6 online