Tourism Recovery Townhall series, is a digital virtual platform, to provide a unique opportunity to governments around the world, their tourism leaders on the frontline of the recovery from COVID 19, heads of Tourism boards as well as CVBs, to talk about and share their country’s experience with the crisis, and now their winning strategies to come out of them, their challenges, as well as their winning formula to rise and recover once again.

World Tourism Forum Institute CEO Sumaira Isaacs addressed President of Middle East, Africa, and South Asia to HVS, Hala Matar Choufany in the 6th Edition of the World Tourism Forum Town Hall series.

Hala Matar Choufany addressed HVS has been very successful in certain cities in cooperation with governments and airline businesses. Qatar Airways, Etihad, and Emirates drive traffic to the Middle East, which led to tremendous growth in the sector. HVS has created infrastructure by analyzing different segments, looking at behavior, and travel patterns, which support the tourism industry’s recovery process today.

She highlighted that what we are facing today is beyond our control. However, we have to pause and re-evaluate what we have done for the industry. We need to understand what travelers think when they will be ready to travel again; on the other hand, we need to understand the hotel owners.

She underlined that at the end of 2019, they had seen a decline in the hotel values up to 30% during the last ten years. On the contrary, visits increased year by year. In the past five years, the cost of businesses and indirect taxes has increased the hotel’s operational costs. Governments should step in to work out demand and supply relationships. Moreover, they also need to ease off the burden of hoteliers and help them in paying extra expenses that the hotel owners have to pay.

"This is the biggest challenge right now. 80% of hotels are closed in GCC now. Approximately 65% of them will manage to reopen. Reopening and new guideline expenses are massive for hotels. They will need funds from the government. In a survey, 80% of hotel owners said that they could only absorb a closure for up to 6 months. Now what governments do about these businesses must be more strategic. This is a global situation that cannot be overcome in 2020. Tourism stakeholders are thinking of a recovery in 2021 or 2022. But the problem is that not much of the businesses will not be able to see 2021".

Talking about the overview for the first countries to recover in the region, she commented: “There are countries which will take advantage of domestic travel. As a result, it will be no surprise if China, the UK, or the USA recover faster since their residents will need to travel within their countries instead of traveling internationally. It is foreseen that there will be a loss of 60% in the global travel market,” and added that “There will be improved inter-regional travel. People will choose to travel to places where that can arrive in less than 6 hours. Markets like Saudi Arabia will take advantage of the domestic market.”

She highlighted that no matter how challenging the situation, there is always an opportunity to invest. There will be opportunities to acquire an investment in UAE or other regions in GCC. For example, there is a need for more budget and resort hotels in the region. We are experiencing many challenges today. We are to learn something out of it. It will take time to see what is better out there. Eventually, there is tomorrow. In every challenge, there is an opportunity.

About World Tourism Forum Institute

As the leading international tourism development and investment brand, World Tourism Forum Institute is a London, UK-based organization committed to promoting developing countries in the field of tourism development, economic growth, foreign direct investment through tourism investments, and human resource development in the industry.

To learn more about World Tourism Forum Institute, please visit:

About HVS

Established in 1980, the company completes thousands of engagements each year for hotel and real estate lenders, owners, operators, and developers worldwide. HVS principals are regarded as the leading experts in their respective regions of the globe. Through a network of more than 50 offices and more than 300 professionals, HVS provides an unparalleled range of complementary services for the hospitality industry.

To learn more about HVS, please visit:

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