|By Arthur Macdonald, Gulf Daily News,
Manama, BahrainMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 25, 2011--MANAMA -- Bahrain could take five years to get back to where it was a month ago even if there is a swift resolution to the current unrest and political uncertainty.
But if the situation is not resolved quickly things could be even worse, according to National Hotels Company (NHC) chief executive officer A Rahman Morshed.
"As a hotel we have been affected the same as any other service industry," he said.
"All the five-star hotels have been hit."
Mr Morshed, whose company owns the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa and is currently completing a BD22 million ($58.36m) office tower beside the property, spent 16 years as the chairman of the five-star hotels grouping in Bahrain.
"Before the trouble broke out we were enjoying occupancy rates of between 75 and 80 per cent," he said.
"That has gradually declined to less than 10pc occupancy and we have been as low as 5pc.
"In the short term the problem is very difficult.
"We have taken measures to reduce expenses and that will continue until we see the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
"We hope to get back to normal and hope the government tackle the problem quickly and rejuvenate the economy by starting a dialogue that will resolve not just the crisis but the reasons for the crisis," he added.
"If we cannot resolve the problem that caused the trouble we cannot go back to normal," he said.
"I can only hope we will achieve this because Bahrain cannot take a break.
"Otherwise losses will take root and that will affect the livelihood of all Bahranis.
"If the problem is not resolved soon then we will have to release people, including Bahrani workers. We may have to take difficult decisions.
"We have already released some expat workers who said they wanted to go home and others are on extended or unpaid leave.
"But we do not want to lose these people because it costs an awful lot to find new people and train them and we are loyal to the staff we have but we are a business and if this situation is prolonged we will not have the money to pay them," he said.
"If the situation of unrest and uncertainty is prolonged the effects will be far reaching," he added.
"As it is now, Bahrain has lost a lot of its image created worldwide over the past 10 years.
"Even with a resolution to the problems we face, it could take us five years to get back to where we were a month ago.
"The longer this goes on the longer it will finally take us to recover."
Last year NHC posted a profit of just over BD7m, up from BD6m the previous year but Mr Morshed said at present the outlook for 2011 was not looking good.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Gulf Daily News, Manama, Bahrain
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