Jan 11, 2021
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — New Year’s Eve was totally different this yr within the Gaza Strip. Instead of internet hosting events and organizing celebrations, resorts hosted people saved in quarantine as a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Since March, and as a part of the strict measures taken to fight the virus that causes COVID-19, the Ministry of Interior within the Gaza Strip has remodeled Gaza resorts into quarantine facilities for these returning to Gaza. This prevented hoteliers from internet hosting New Year’s Eve occasions.
By the tip of 2020, the entire variety of coronavirus deaths within the Gaza Strip amounted to 371, with greater than 4,000 optimistic instances, together with 164 significantly ailing sufferers.
The resolution to show resorts into quarantine facilities got here as a part of the state of emergency that President Mahmoud Abbas introduced for the primary time on March 5. According to the choice, the total capabilities of the non-public sector shall be put in place to help the state of emergency.
Moein Nashwan, director of the Beach Hotel, informed Al-Monitor, “The coronavirus pandemic has literally drained us, and we were unfortunately unable to host any New Year’s Eve celebrations.”
The Beach Hotel with its 25 rooms is amongst 10 giant resorts the Ministry of Interior in Gaza has transformed into quarantine facilities.
Nashwan mentioned that he was compelled to terminate work contracts with native and overseas establishments and name off a number of weddings and night occasions as a result of well being disaster. He additionally needed to lay off and terminate contracts signed with greater than 30 employees throughout 2020, because the ministry didn’t cowl any bills for turning the resorts into quarantine facilities, nor did it provide compensation for resort homeowners.
He famous that the resort operated for less than two months final yr earlier than the primary case was reported within the Gaza Strip in March and was subsequently transformed right into a quarantine middle.
Nashwan identified that in 2020, the resort’s losses amounted to about $250,000, including, “Things are not likely to improve as hotels are expected to remain closed.”
During a particular ceremony organized July 27, Hamas honored hoteliers within the Gaza Strip for his or her function in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the variety of people quarantined in Gaza resorts reached 7,473, based on figures Al-Monitor obtained from the Ministry of Social Development in Gaza.
Haitham Handuka, director of the Gloria and La Rosa resorts on the Gaza beachfront, which have been each was quarantine facilities, described 2020 as “a very exceptional year” throughout which the resorts have been solely open for one month.
Handuka employs 45 employees in each resorts, and so they have been all laid off as a result of absence of any bookings. “We had no income in 2020,” he informed Al-Monitor.
Handuka mentioned that his losses for the previous yr amounted to $350,000 and that he didn’t anticipate issues to enhance within the new yr.
Khaled al-Lulu, an worker who used to work for Al-Mathaf Hotel in Gaza City, lamented that he needed to depart his job on the resort and move to a different sector after the resort was a quarantine middle.
He informed Al-Monitor that they didn’t host any New Year’s Eve celebrations due to the pandemic.
There are 17 resorts working within the Gaza Strip which have a license from the Ministry of Tourism, and most of them are four-star resorts based on the worldwide resort classification.
According to Zakaria al-Hor, director of the General Administration of Tourism on the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza, all of those resorts have suffered nice losses as a result of coronavirus pandemic and the tough financial situations plaguing the Gaza Strip.
Hor informed Al-Monitor that the resort occupancy fee didn’t exceed 5% in 2020, and that his ministry is getting ready a plan to handle the tough situations that resorts are going by means of by stimulating home tourism “so that this sector does not collapse.”
The deputy chairman of the Board of Directors of the Palestinian Committee for Restaurants, Hotels and Tourism Services, Eman Awad, informed Al-Monitor, “Hotels in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have responded to the state of emergency and have come under the command of the executive authority.”
She mentioned that the losses incurred by resorts in Gaza exceeded $100 million — “and we are still counting.” Awad defined that the committee referred to as on the Palestinian authorities in Ramallah to offer assist and grants for resorts and eating places to ensure that these affected to not go bankrupt.
Awad added that the committee resorted to the European Union in October and requested grants or low curiosity loans to hoteliers after Gaza resorts began getting used as quarantine facilities.
She mentioned that primarily based on the EU request in December, the committee is about to debate the main points of the matter with the EU this week.