Hotels in the Romand region recorded a drop of more than half of their overnight stays in the first half of the year. They no longer rule out layoffs.
The Romandie hotel industry is sounding the alarm. Faced with the vertiginous drop in overnight stays and the recent travel restrictions imposed by the federal authorities, the situation is “dramatic” for hoteliers who will have to resign themselves to dismissal.
“We are facing something that we have never known”. Stefano Brunetti Imfeld, president of the Lausanne hotel industry, lamented to the press in Lausanne on Wednesday a 58% drop in overnight stays compared to the 2017/2019 average that hotels in the Romand region had to absorb in the first half of the year.
If this historic decline has been temporarily contained, hoteliers are worried about a fragile situation which is dragging on and which endangers employment in this sector.
Limited breakage, for the moment
Cédric Fiora is the young owner of a 40-room hotel in Lausanne. Despite partial unemployment and a Covid loan, the entrepreneur is financially strangled: “since May I have not paid myself a salary to save my team and my employees, but that is no longer enough. I have already fired two and it will continue, ”he told AWP.
The generalized use of compensation for reduced working hours (RHT) initially made it possible to limit damage. And the representatives of the hotel sector were keen to stress the speed of its implementation in the midst of the crisis.
But this is not an eternal solution. According to Mr Brunetti Imfeld, 10% to 15% of the 30,000 people employed in the sector have been made redundant since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. Without a rapid recovery in attendance, this should not get better, he said.
Nearly zero forecasts
In fact, it is between March and October that most of the turnover of hotels in the Lake Geneva region is played out, winter being a low period, whether they are establishments on the lake or in downtown. “The forecasts are almost zero in autumn and winter,” said Nicolas Ming.
The vice-president of the company of the hoteliers of Montreux-Vevey-Lavaux denounced the devastating effects of the new health measures taken by the federal authorities. The imposition, for example, of quarantine for any traveler entering Switzerland from certain French regions was immediately felt.
“The decisions of the State Council yesterday directly generated cancellations” in hotels on the Riviera, said Ming. Even if the hoteliers try more or less to compensate with a local clientele, they remain very dependent on foreign tourists, of the order of 82% in the city of Geneva.
Faced with this situation, the representatives of the sector demand more support from the federal authorities. “We are asking for the creation of a fund” to compensate for the shortfall, said Stefano Brunetti Umfeld, who hopes for aid between 50 and 100 million francs.
For the president of the Lausanne hotel industry, this is the only way to safeguard the financial health of hotels. According to him, these companies work with low profit margins and the lower the room price, the harder it is to achieve profitability.
It is therefore above all hotels with competitive overnight stays that are weakened. “Below 50% to 55% occupancy rate, it’s impossible to manage” calculated Christoph Zen Ruffinen, president of the hoteliers of the Coast.