HOTEL STAFF FEEL THE SQUEEZE, HOPES PINNED ON AIR TRAFFIC GROWTH
by Brian Reyes
Gibraltar’s three leading hotels have all cut staff numbers through redundancy or natural wastage in recent months.
The cuts come against the background of weak occupancy levels this winter, dampened further by reductions in airline capacity and disruption from volcanic ash.
But despite this, hoteliers are confident that Gibraltar remains an attractive destination and that new travel infrastructure will open further opportunities to strengthen the Rock’s appeal.
They are also exploring alternatives to the traditional, highly-competitive package vacations in the form of events-led tourism.
“I consider event tourism to be the future of Gibraltar tourism,” said Brian Callaghan, proprietor of the Caleta Hotel and organizer of the Gibraltar International Chess Festival, which attracts scores of visitors to the Rock.
“We feel that this is a specific niche in the market which should be targeted with vigour.”
Optimism aside, as many as 40 jobs could be lost through redundancy or natural wastage across the hotel sector in Gibraltar.
The Caleta Hotel is one of the local hotels that has had little option but to reduce staffing levels recently.
Mr Callaghan said some workers had been laid off, while others had retired and their posts left vacant. He declined to go into exact figures.
Perhaps one of the most exciting areas for the hotel sector in Gibraltar is the potential offered by events-led tourism.
The Gibraltar International Chess Festival, which is backed by both the government and the private sector, has proved a resounding success.
In a very short space of time – and thanks to the backing of the private sector and the Gibraltar Government – it has become a prominent brand in the international chess world.
Mr Callaghan and his team now plan to launch an annual Gibraltar International Junior Chess Festival, starting in August next year, and believe there is room for more.
“What one wants to do is fill the calendar up with annual events of a whole variety,” he said.
It is not just chess festivals. Mr Callaghan said Gibraltar’s excellent sporting and leisure facilities offered ample scope for developing niche markets of this sort.
And not all of these events have to be on the scale of the chess festival, which this year attracted over 300 visitors from 51 countries and provided a boost for local hotels.
“There are many other smaller niche markets out there,” said The Rock’s Mr Davenport.
“But if you multiply the numbers of small events by 20 or 30, then you’re filling your hotel.”
Here is the full article.