Around a quarter of the 120-property Swiss-Belhotel International chain, founded by a Kiwi entrepreneur, are shut and that could double later this week.
Gavin Faull, the New Zealander who is chairman and president of what was one of the world's fastest-growing hotel and hospitality management groups, said the effect of coronavirus on the business, which managed around 10,000 hotel rooms, had been devastating.
"We're at 25 per cent [closed] right now and it will be 50 per cent by the end of the month," Faull predicted today of the toll taken on the Swiss-Belhotel chain.
The hotels operate throughout Asia, Australasia and the Middle East and are leased. Negotiations were being held with property owners over leasehold payments, Faull said.
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The chain has around 70 properties in Indonesia alone, due to the potential of that market where Faull formed successful partnerships. The rest of the chain's hotels are in New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Vietnam, the Philippines, Middle East and Malaysia. Many are serviced suites, appealing to a business clientele.
Faull said the business employed around 12,000 people and some of those roles could not be retained in the face of the downturn.
Asked about the revenue drop, he said it would be "humongous, I don't even want to think about it. We're letting people go as fast as we can in all countries - Indonesia, the Middle East, Australia. New Zealand has been backed by the Government here so we're hanging on to New Zealand jobs."
The business leased most of its properties "because the 120 hotels are all management contracts", he said.
Faull, on the NBR Rich List, has dairy farm interests and operates the hotel chain with Auckland-based son Oliver who is the senior vice-president.
Gavin Faull and family appeared on last year's Rich List with $85m. Faull Farms, another family business, is based at Tikorangi and is employing a fifth generation. It is jointly owned by Gavin and his four brothers.
Gavin Faull was born in Taranaki in the late 1940s. He ran a grocery shop from a young age at Tikorangi. He went to Victoria University, then joined EY in Wellington. At 34, he became chief executive of hotel chain Kingsgate International here and in Australia.
In Auckland, Swiss-Belhotel operates a Victoria Park Markets property on the western fringe of the CBD and leases a former university hostel.
The hotel chain was founded in 1987, headquartered in Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, the Herald reported how hundreds of part-time and casual tourism workers have been laid off and businesses are looking to cut permanent staff as the coronavirus hits, an industry group says.
But analysts at Forsyth Barr say a $3b share market hit on tourism stocks is an over-reaction to the impact of Covid-19, although they say the outlook is uncertain.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said the industry had got through most of February without major damage but bookings by overseas visitors were evaporating for March and beyond.