Hospitality employees hit hard by coronavirus

Thousands of hospitality and tourism sector employees in the country have had their pay cut while some are on unpaid leave as the coronavirus has led to reduced business in the industry.

At Hapuwani Food Court in Mulanje, employees have been told that they will only receive 5 percent of their salaries.

According to one of the employees, the company has also sent some employees on unpaid leave.

The employee also told Malawi24 that, before the Covid-19 lockdown was blocked, the Tourism office in Mulanje advised the company to close Hapuwani Food Court and village.

The government planned to institute a lockdown in Malawi from today to May 9 but a court on Friday granted an injunction against the move.

Last week Sunbird Malawi, which owns several top hotels across Malawi, cut employees’ salaries by 20 percent.

Lodges and hotels in tourist attraction areas such as Nkhatabay and Likoma have also laid off staff due to the pandemic.

Last week, the Malawi News Agency reported that the industry was arguably the hardest hit sector in Malawi.

Director for the Department of Tourism, Isaac Katopola told the agency that 35,000 have been laid-off over the past weeks due to the both temporary and permanent closure of tourism and hospitality businesses.

He noted that businesses are failing to make due to restrictions on international travel and public gatherings.

“The tourism private sector players have since engaged Government for bailout packages to avoid having more facilities closed and retain some of the employees in the sector.

“On prevention of Coronavirus, we have developed robust guidelines which we have circulated to the tourism and hospitality players,” Katopola said.

According to 2018 Travel and Tourism Economic Impact Report, the tourism and hospitality sector contributes US$553 million (about K400 billion) to Malawi’s Gross Domestic Product annually.

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