Szeklerland’s city hotels face serious financial problems due to pandemic

While rural tourism thrives in Szeklerland, city hotels have become more and more desolate, as overseas tourists are staying away and most events have been canceled. These hotels cannot rely on domestic tourism either because Romanians generally do not spend their vacations in cities. As székelyhon.ro news portal reported, several hotels in Szeklerland’s cities are facing an imminent financial crisis. For instance, the well-known hotel Küküllő in Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) has just closed its doors this week for an undetermined period.

At hotel Küküllő, the occupancy rate has dropped to a minimum these past few months. After trying out a slew of cost reduction measures, the owners decided they should suspend activity while they still have enough money to pay personnel their last wages. The hotel was built in the 1970s and refurbished in the early 2000s. It has 73 rooms and an event room for 300 people. Throughout the past two decades, the hotel has been managed by the László family.

In March, the government decided that all facilities of the hospitality industry had to close in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The representative of the owners, Zoltán Bíró-László, told Székelyhon that their employees then opted for mandatory leave, and their salaries were partly financed by the government. “We had a feeling that the pandemic would cause a big transformation in tourism. Nevertheless, when the state of emergency ended on May 16 and restrictions were lifted, we opened our doors again. We were faced with a huge drop in the number of overnight stays, since only one or two guests checked in daily,” Bíró-László told Székelyhon. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of the hotel’s turnover came from events organized in their function room, but all the scheduled wedding parties had to be canceled to comply with the restrictions.

In the second phase of “optimizing” activity and costs, paychecks were cut, and the hotel’s kitchen started to offer only a daily menu. In June, the government allowed hotels and restaurants to serve food and beverages on terraces, but the daily sales on Küküllő’s terrace did not go above RON 200. Another measure was then to reduce the number of staff by 40 percent and offer overnight stays to the cleaning crew in exchange for their services.

As the hotel has not been able to break even during the summer months, the owners realized that without any profits, they would not be able to cover the maintenance cost of the facility during the off-season. The owners are still keen on reopening in the near future and are trying to work out ways to reorganize, wrote Székelyhon.

The Rubin Hotel located in the center of Gyergyószentmiklós (Gheorgheni) is in the same situation. As the owner, Imre Huszár, told Székelyhon, the hotel barely has any guests, and income has dropped drastically since March. “We are open at the moment, but this situation is unsustainable for a longer period of time. If we run out of our savings, we will have to shut the place down because we will not be able to pay the bills,” emphasized the owner. He pointed out that most of their guests (80 percent) were Hungarian citizens, but due to the pandemic situation, tourists no longer travel from Hungary to Romania. Furthermore, domestic tourists visit the sites around Gyilkos (Killer or Red) Lake, Szováta and Parajd, but the city of Gyergyószentmiklós itself is not a tourist destination.

Even the biggest hotel in the city of Csíkszereda (Miercurea-Ciuc), the Hunguest Hotel with 100 rooms, is struggling. Manager Etelka Todor declared that the facility won’t close. Nevertheless, the paychecks of personnel and maintenance costs of the building are a great financial burden, as the average occupancy rate of the hotel has fallen from 70-75 percent to 25 percent. “The situation is not good at all, but we hope that it will not last for long,” the manager added.

Title image: Overnight stays in Szeklerland’s city hotels have dropped, with income not even covering their costs



Author: Éva Zay