Business for restaurants during Christmas expected to reach pre-Covid levels – Tony Zahra

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December, 2022 at 10:00 am by Andre Camilleri

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, business for restaurants is expected to reach pre-Covid levels or slightly improve because the Maltese will likely want to “make up for lost time,” the President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, Tony Zahra, has said.

For hotels, he said that occupancy levels are expected to reach around 85% of what they were in 2018/19.

In less than a week’s time Christmas will be upon us, and it will be the first time since Covid-19 struck that Christmas can be celebrated without any restrictions.

Last year there was an explosion in Covid cases driven by the rise of the Omicron variant and restrictions for gatherings and the mandatory wearing of masks were still in place.

When Zahra was asked how the catering and hospitality industry is performing during its first Christmas without Covid-19 restrictions, he said that all hotels and restaurants are performing well and everything is “back to normal” with the hopes that this season will be successful as well.

“All the restrictions that there were this time last year, regarding restaurants and hotels, have stopped. There are no restrictions. If you want to host an event you can do so without any restrictions.”

Asked whether the war in Ukraine was having an impact on the industry, he said that the cost of essentials has been rising. “This is a substantial part of your cost which is increasing. Let’s assume that the food cost is 35/40% of total expenses, if this goes up by 10%, then your cost is going to increase,” he said.

He added that this will either be absorbed from the profit margin or prices will have to rise. “The reality is that most people try not to increase, and if they increase they will raise the least amount from the extra cost,” he said.

He also said that a shortage of staff is also a problem, however added that this is a global issue.

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