Hotels, resorts closed, workers laid off
More than ten hotels and resorts have temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, in a move that will hurt more than a hundred employees and thousands more who rely on their income.
Samoa closed its borders last week as a preventative measure against the virus. The majority of hotels and resorts the Samoa Observer contacted confirmed that they have closed due to not having any guests.
Among the hotels the Samoa Observer contacted were Apia Central Hotel, Le Uaina Beach Resort, Aga Reef Resort, Seabreeze Resort Samoa, Amoa Resort, Return to Paradise Resort, Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa, Coconut Beach Resort, and Le Vasa Resort.
However, Samoa Tradition Hotel, Orator Hotel, Moanalisa Hotel and St. Therese Resort are closed to members of the public and are being used for quarantine.
The General Manager of Aga Reef Resort, Leonyra Namulo, said that they had to let go of 33 of its staff.
“We had to let them go because there are absolutely no guests,” she said.
She added that and with the State of Emergency orders issued, restaurants and bars are to be closed, they could not target the local market either.
“We are closing and hoping to be back on the 4th of April but it all depends on Government’s decision," she said.
“The only staff we have retained is for security and maintenance and yes, it is a sad thing but at the end of the day safety first is priority.”
Owner of Le Vasa Resort, Soraya May, said that she had to let go of 50 staff members due to not having any guests.
“I was in tears the other day while making the decision because these people relied so heavily on us and yet now they have no means to support their families. We had no choice because we do not have any guests to be operating and for them to be employed.
“So far, we have ten staff members. There are no stimulus packages or packages to help employees.”
She said that overseas countries giving stimulus packages to businesses and yet Samoa is not doing the same.
“These packages continue to help the economy of countries affected.”
General Manager of Seabreeze Resort, Stuart Finch said that their resort has been closed temporarily until borders are reopened again.
“We have only let go of six staff members temporarily.
“But we are trying to retain a lot of our staff so we that when we have tourists again we can have them working again.”
The Ministry of Finance told the Samoa Observer that the Government had already been working to put together an assistance package for the economy even while receiving the request from the Chamber of Commerce.