Qatar and the hospitality industry will emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic due to the government’s initiatives, its focus on health and safety, and the country’s ability to innovate, an industry expert has said.
“The Qatar government’s overall easing of Covid-19 restrictions has been planned efficiently, ensuring the health and safety of residents and significantly helping the hospitality sector to work on its recovery in a co-ordinated manner,” Safak Guvenc, area vice president – Luxury Eastern Europe and Gulf Levant and Pakistan, Marriott International, told Gulf Times
Ritz Carlton Doha
Al Messila Resort & Spa
Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel
Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, Sharq Village & Spa (a Ritz-Carlton Hotel), Al Messila Resort & Spa, and Ritz Carlton Doha are part of Marriott International and owned by Katara Hospitality.
Guvenc said phase 4 of the gradual lifting of restrictions in Qatar comes at a critical time as the industry heads into what is usually its busiest season of the year.
Many restrictions have been lifted from September 1, allowing several business establishments across the country to reopen but with all safety protocols in place.
“We have already seen a demand for local travel and dining in our properties. Now with the easing of restrictions around events, group gatherings and travel into the country, we remain optimistic on the impact it will have on our properties and the tourism sector as a whole,” Guvenc said.
“We thank the leaders of this country and local authorities for their guidance and communication throughout this pandemic. We would also like to thank the Qatar National Tourism Council and Qatar Airways for their ongoing support and efforts,” he added.
Guvenc described Qatar’s hospitality industry as “very resilient and has proven over the years how well it can cope with adversity and continue to re-invent itself. And we have seen that again now, going through this pandemic”.
“As a company, we continue to take on-board learnings from this crisis and use them as we adapt whatever the future holds. The world is constantly changing and many of the learnings we have seen through Covid-19 will be integrated into how we do business in the future,” he said.
According to Guvenc, the pandemic has not only impacted their business but also on how they operate their hotels.
“It has also shifted travellers’ expectations and has fundamentally changed human attitudes and behaviours.
“We understand that people are thinking about travel differently now and so are we. So, since the early stages of this pandemic we have been working to raise our exacting standards to an even higher level with new protocols for the current circumstances while also reimagining how we can deliver the customer experience in a hygienic yet human way,” he said, adding that they also continue to work with local authorities and follow the guidelines and restrictions they have in place.
Some of these measures include focusing on surface areas, which includes rigorous protocols and increased frequency of cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants across public spaces and guest rooms; and working on the installation of hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipe stations across public areas and even including disinfecting wipes in each room for guests’ personal use.
Guvenc said they also installed signage in lobbies and dining areas and other spaces to remind guests to maintain social distancing protocols.
“Our teams have also worked on removing or re-arranging furniture and equipment and evaluated the addition of partitions at front desks to provide an extra level of precaution for both guests and associates. Our hotels also continue to implement touchless or low-touch solutions including: mobile check in/out, mobile chat, mobile key and mobile dining,” he added.
On food safety, Guvenc said they conduct additional training for all food handlers and supervisors, inspections, independent audits and modifying their operational practices for dining in their outlets, as well as in-room dining.
He noted that the company has also created a new advisory board – the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council – which includes in-house and outside experts in hospitality, epidemiology, sanitation and protective technology.
“This team of experts from the field of medicine and public health are helping us deploy scientifically supported practices and innovations with a focus on developing the next level of hospitality cleanliness standards, norms and behaviors,” Guvenc said.
He stressed that Marriott International will remain committed to supporting the growth of the hospitality sector in Qatar, and looks forward to also ramping up its efforts for the FIFA World Cup 2022, which will welcome travellers from across the globe.