Here are some critical steps to ensuring hospitality SMEs survive COVID-19:
- Do No More Harm: Future measures must not increase the burden on the vulnerable.
- Foster a Predictable Business Environment: Governments need to provide clarity and predictability regarding future expectations to enable businesses to avoid the “yo-yo” situation of spending money to reopen, then being forced to close again.
- Implement a Tactical Approach to Recovery: Governments should take steps to optimize the hospitality sector’s reopening while avoiding high COVID-19 risk, such as preventing closures or evictions through rent subsidies, providing tax credits to the most vulnerable SMEs, or assisting SMEs with moving into viable forms of e-commerce.
- Encourage Inter-industry Collaboration: The sector will have to develop a supportive ecosystem that draws on governments, private enterprise, and multilateral organizations. Public-private partnerships can also encourage the sector’s regrowth, as consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies play a critical role in the industry. Their connections with local formal and informal business should be used to support SMEs.
Hospitality SMEs worldwide share many pandemic-related challenges, including the range of fast-changing, externally imposed restrictions that cripple commercial possibilities. Outright bans on goods such as alcohol, which accounts for one-third of revenue and even more profit, have also proved challenging.
This is a global challenge in a critical industry that generates 10 percent of employment worldwide, making its decline dangerous; The World Bank estimates another 150 million people could fall into extreme poverty worldwide in 2021, erasing over three years of global poverty reduction.
Without coordinated and long-term policies to revive the beleaguered hospitality industry and the SMEs at its core, this decline could persist, fueling a global recession. Even as the pandemic subsides, policymakers need to take action to better equip SMEs to protect our global economy.
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