With over 200,000 people affected by the coronavirus in more than 144 countries, the pandemic is showing no signs of abating, and extreme precautions are resulting in ordinary life grinding to a halt.

Drastic measures have been taken by authorities to control the spread, including shutting down workplaces, schools and offices and telling people to remain in their homes.

However, this has caused an economic crisis, with the hospitality sector in the United Arab Emirates being arguably the hardest hit because of the complete halting of travel, with holiday homes and hotels practically deserted.

Because complete isolation is being promoted as an idea by the UAE government, this also means that staycations are not in business either.

At this time of the year in the UAE, business is usually booming in the industry, with occupancy rates normally soaring to as much as 85% and the average room rate being Dh1,000.

Now, however, the opposite is true, with a low 20% occupancy rate and rates as low as Dh500.

The tourism industry is a major part of the UAE economy, with studies having predicted that by 2027, as much as Dh312.4bn will be contributed to the nation’s GDP by travel and tourism.

However, if the UAE government does not give immediate aid to this backbone of the nation’s economy, many businesses in the industry may not survive the coronavirus crisis.

Experts are calling for a relief package aimed at holiday rentals to make sure that the industry is thriving and ready to resume services to tourists once the crisis is over.

A relief package should include the likes of cash loans that equal working capital for as long as three months, with the funds micromanaged monthly.

The UAE government should also waive credit card, loan and mortgage payments for a minimum of three months until the industry has had a chance to recover from the outbreak.

Companies should also be exempted from visa costs if any new employees are hired within the next six months, which could be a big boon given that the virus is likely to result in a massive increase of unemployment.

The cost of renewing licences should be waived for a full year, with housing and utility fees reduced by as much as 50% for holiday rental homes, allowing investors to use their savings to cope during these difficult times.

A major role in the creation and maintenance of the successful economy in the UAE has been played by small businesses, with one of the major players being holiday rental homes.

Such businesses have enabled memorable family experiences and also played host to the likes of sports stars, corporate travellers and some big-name politicians.

Expo 2020 Dubai is still scheduled to begin in October this year, but many businesses may not be around then if they are not given government support.

Anyone who travels to the UAE when the current restrictions are lifted should take out travel insurance against the financial costs of cancelled flights or falling ill while away from home.


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