Fearing for the survival of their businesses, hotel operators now want the government to choose adherence to the anti-Covid-19 guidelines over lockdowns in the face of rising cases.
A number of hotels this paper talked to indicate that the August 1 opening of the airport to tourists and travellers coming in and out of Rwanda is yet to have an impact on their business, so another shutdown will put them out of business.
“Things are beginning to pick up since the airport was re-opened. The occupancy rate is still low at 30 per cent but at least there is improvement,” said Samson Ndayishimiye, the general manager of Great Seasons Hotel in Kagugu.
Rwanda has experienced a sharp resurgence of Covid-19 cases, with numbers increasing every passing day.
Between August 20-24, the country recorded 662 cases and four deaths.
Ndayishimiye said the fact that the country is recording all these numbers is a success in itself, because it would have been a disaster if all these cases went undetected.
Many of the hotels are yet to get the credit they applied for as part of the economic recovery fund, as banks put up stringent requirements to qualify for the financing.
Up to Rwf43 billion has been approved for hotel refinancing, with Rwf20 billion already disbursed, according to the central bank, but there has been little activity regarding the working capital window, as only Rwf2 billion has been approved.
Dino Urbani, the regional manager of Mantis collection of luxury hotels, said each hotel in Rwanda is affected differently.
For example, he said, “the Marina bay in Rusizi is not doing well because Rusizi is on lockdown, the hotel facility in Nyagatare is beginning to pick up due to local tourists.”
The Ministry of Health says the virus continues to spread because of people who are not abiding by the control guidelines in place.
For example, people remove their masks when they enter congested places like markets or shops or when they are speaking, yet that is the most susceptible environment to contract Covid-19.
Rwanda was one of the first African countries to implement a comprehensive lockdown meant to curb the spread of Covid-19.