When this message hit our inbox we couldn’t help thinking: We would love to know the same…
We felt sorry for the sender and for all our staff – the mail just exposed the frustration we all share. At least all of us who work with tourism.
When we got the mail all restaurants in town were closed. So were all museums, churches and other tourist sights. You were not allowed to go to the beach. The touristic parts of Lisbon looked like ghost towns. And the police stopped people trying to bypass the fencing of the benches in parks and at our Miradouro. All public transportation including Tram 28 was free – but where should you go to?
So why on Earth should people go to Lisbon?
Today it’s not that bad. If you keep the social distance, you can go to the beach or hang out on our Miradouro.
We keep getting questions about how we are doing – not so much about our health and well being – and not the usual courtesy greetings: How are you doing or – Tá bem? we get from friends, neighbours and other relations. These questions come from people who are seriously interested in or maybe even worried about our Hotel in Graça. We find a bit strange because everybody we know on this planet is struggling themselves. In Nepal we were forced to close Tings Kathmandu months ago – our staff there are facing much bigger problems than us here.
In case you want to know: Our situation here in Lisbon is bad!
Like the rest of Portugal – and Europe for that matter – SMEs (aka Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) are facing huge problems. And like in the rest of the world, the government has launched a range of programs to support us getting through this crisis.
So we were optimistic when we got the news about the government’s Covid support program that would help us Tings Lisbon to survive the lock down period and open fully operational after Covid.
We are pretty sure that the people behind the programs only had the best intentions. But they don’t necessarily know how to run a small business in Tourism Industry.
Unlike most other SMEs hotels like our don’t know what happens, when we open our doors. We need guests. To get guests we need travelers which is a crucial problem for the whole industry:
Add to all this a potential financial crises that will hit Portugal when people who have invested in real estate in recent years can’t pay their mortgage because the income the expect from AirBnB and similar short term rentals is gone. Then the banks will start panicking – and who knows what happens then.
In other words – the whole travel industry is so chaotic that nobody on this planet knows when people will start travelling again and how and where!
2 week ago we got our application for the support program approved. But when we were about to sign it, we realised that in order to get the loan we would have to keep all our staff for the next 5 month.
One of the main reasons for doing what we do is to make a difference. We want to create and maintain serious jobs with contracts, social security etc! Keeping our staff has been one of our main concerns for the past several weeks.
Our staff costs are based on a >60% occupancy. But the occupancy for as long as we can forecast will be at least 5 times lower means that we would be forced to close Tings Lisbon in less than a month if we signed up for the so called Covid Help. So buy, buy to all the jobs it has taken us 4 years to create.
Instead we will dismiss our staff, keep Tings Lisbon open and get the staff back one-by-one along with our booking growth.
We just did that 🙁
The ‘good’ thing about this crazy situation is that it will (hopefully) be possible to keep Tings open so we (again hopefully) will be able to take our lovely employees back at Tings in spring 2021.
Until we get enough guests we – Thomas & Annette – will manage the hotel ourselves: Reception, Breakfast, book-keeping, night duty, bar, bookings etc.
The situation is sad, grotesque and funny at the same time. So we will try to get the best out of it…
It’s too early for welcome hugs. But we would love to share a glass of wine or beer or a cup of coffee or tea with our guests.
We are desperate to meet travellers again
All the best,
Annette & Thomas
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