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A content analysis for government’s and hotels’
response to COVID-19 pandemic in Egypt
Item TypeArticle
AuthorsIslam, Salem; Elshwesky, Zakaria; Ramkissoon, Haywantee
CitationSalem, I., Elshwesky, Z., & Ramkissoon, H. (2021). 'A content
analysis for government’s and hotels’ response to COVID-19
pandemic in Egypt'. Tourism and Hospitality Research, pp. 1-34.
DOI10.1177/14673584211002614
PublisherSAGE
JournalTourism and Hospitality Research
Download date03/01/2022 21:32:36
Link to Itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/10545/625709
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AContent Analysis for GovernmentsandHotelsResponse to COVID-19Pandemicin Egypt
Abstract
Drawing on theSituationalCrisisCommunication theory (SCCT), thisstudyrecapitulatesthe initiatives,
practices, and responses ofthe Egyptian government and chain-managed five-star hotelsduringthe
COVID-19 global health pandemic.Subjective and objective content analysisisemployed in this study.
Subjective content analysis is employed to examine newspapers, magazines, T.V channels, and official
pages on Facebook to determine the initiatives and practices adopted by the Egyptian government.
Objective content analysis is further used to determine the COVID-19 hospitality practices adopted by 22
chain-managed five-star hotelsby examining their official websites.Thematicsaturationwasattained when
observations and analysesexhibitedno new themes.Findings indicated that the Egyptian government and
chain-managed five-star hotels implemented a number of initiatives and practices focused on financial
policies, health and hygiene, workforce and training, marketing, domestic tourism, booking flexibility,
cancellation policies, community support, vacations, and contracts.Thisstudy contributes to crisis
management research by beingone ofthe first studiestoexploregovernmentsand hotel operations practices
andinitiatives duringtheCOVID-19using Egypt asa casestudy.We discuss thetheoretical and practical
implications during and post the COVID-19.
Keywords:COVID-19,situational crisis communication theory,content analysis,thematic saturation,
Egypt
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Introduction
SARS-COV-2 virus was discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019.Declared as a global
health pandemic, it has brought a noxious economic impact all over the world (Higgins-Desbiolles, 2020;
Wright, 2020) withunmatched universal travel restrictions sinceWorld War II (Gössling, Scott, & Hall,
2020).Tourism plays a significant role in thedevelopmentof several economies of the globe(Senbeto &
Hon, 2020).
Inevitably, thepandemichas hada strong negativeeffecton traveland hospitality businesses
withenforcedrestricted mobility and social distancingmeasures(Gösslinget al.,2020; Ramkissoon, 2020a)
adopted across the globe.Border closure of several countries have led to disruption in leisure,business, and
pilgrimage travel impacting severely on livelihoods(Majeed & Ramkissoon, 2020; Ramkissoon, mavondo,
& Sowamber, 2020). Governments across nations are struggling about how to assist the tourism sector to
operate during COVID-19(DeWit, Shaw,and Djalante, 2020).The gross domestic product of travel and
tourismhas beenslumped by $ 2.1 trillion in 2020,a23% contrast to 2019. Travel and tourism jobs have
been slashed by up to 75 million jobs in 2020(WTTC, 2020).The global economic influence of the new
coronavirus COVID-19is harder than the2008 global financial crisiswith the virus’s impactsvisible in
nearly all sectors of the hospitality value chain.Attractions have been closed, events cancelled, and shops
and restaurantshave not been operatingover long periods of time. The accommodation sector continues to
suffer a tremendous impact with little or no business(Business Insider, 2020; Gössling et al., 2020).The
World Travel and Tourism Council predictsglobalunemployment rate is predicted to raise by 2.1
percentage points directly emanating from travel and tourism job loss (WTTC, 2020).
Criseshavepromptedmanagerstotake decisionsrapidlywith insufficient information
(Stafford,Yu,& Armoo,2002).Followingthe September 11, 2001tragedy,some evidence shows hotel
managersreducedemployees’hours,whileadjustingmarketingstrategies,anddelayingcapital
improvements (Taylor & Enz, 2002).Resourcesallocation and past crisis experience werearguedas
predictorsofcrisis planning and communication procedures(Pennington-Gray et al., 2011) with top
management playing a vital role in having an effective strategy in place.In the current SARS-COV-2
pandemic,Chen, Huang, and Li (2020)report thatChina’s hospitality industry participatedinthe control
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ofthe virusaspart of its social responsibility;hotel owners provided free accommodation services for
medical staffwho contributed to the COVID-19 treatment.The researchersindicated that several tourism
businesses areprovidinga full refundtotourists who have had to revisit their travels as a consequence of
the pandemic.Hotelmanagers implementedremote working, paid and unpaid leave, and reduction of a
permanent and temporary salariesin a few destinations(Haak-Saheem, 2020).
Severalstudies (e.g., Israeli et al., 2011; Lai & Wong, 2020; Sager & Mavrot, 2020; Sanfelici,
2020) have investigated the practices availed by governments and hotel operations during periods of crisis
management. While there is a plethora of COVID-19 studies, scholars note the need for more research on
crisis management (Ramkissoon, 2020a; 2020b),howhotels have/are responding effectively to infection
diseases, exploring their hygiene and health care practices during COVID-19 (Jiang & Wen, 2020). There
is a need for more studies utilizing the huge secondary data of COVID-19 pandemic (Hasab et al., 2020;
Jiang & Wen, 2020). Liu-Lastres, Kim, and Ying (2020) affirmed that there is a critical need for further
research on crisis management and organizationalresilience in the tourism industry. It is vital to investigate
how tourism organizations can manage crises and risks (Majeed & Ramkissoon, 2020; Paraskevas & Quek,
2019).
Stakeholders including employees, the local community, suppliers, customers and others are
often negatively influenced by crises.Thisstudy draws ontheSituational CrisisCommunicationTheory
(SCCT)through the lens ofthe situational crisisinthe COVID-19 pandemic.SCCT is considered as one
of the most implemented theoretical frameworks in crisis communication (Kim & Sung, 2014).SCCT
indicates the importance of analysingnegativeimpactsofcrisesand applying strategies and practices to
protect an organization’s reputation.SCCTfocuses on how to use crisis response strategies to protect an
organization's reputation fromnegativeimpacts(Coombs, 2007).Based on Kim and Sung (2014), crisis
response has two principal elements: (a) base crisis response (i.e.,guiding information and modifying
information) and (b) reputation management crisis response. SCCT recommends that guiding and
modifying information are base responses needed for all crises (Sturges, 1994).Recently, Liu-Lastres, Kim,
and Ying (2020) stated that creatingeffective crisis responseshas a profound importance.
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Across the globe, many governmentsand co-actorsare workingon preventingthe spread of
COVID-19with a number of coping strategies being implemented(Hao, Xiao, & Chon, 2020).Stimulus
packages and government interventions will play an important role in combatting the harmful impact of
COVID-19 on jobs and the economy (Higgins-Desbiolles, 2020;Wright, 2020).Thisexploratory study,
using Egypt astheresearch context draws on SCCTtheory and contributes to hospitality management
literature spotlighting government and hotel operations practices and initiatives during the COVID-19
global health pandemic.Based on data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics
(CAMPAS), there are 782,900 employees in accommodation and food services in Egypt(CAMPAS, 2020).
Tourism has constantly been subject to periodical downturns during COVID-19 (OECD, 2020). In March
2020, with rising COVID-19 cases in Europe, tourism decayed distinctly in Egypt,with70 and 80% of
hotel bookings being cancelled (ECES, 2020). The virus has shut down Egypt's tourism sector, leading to
losses estimated at one billion U.S. dollars monthly (CGTN, 2020). The circumstances remain to worsen
as global travel continues to be restricted across the globe. A further loss intourism revenues over the next
few months, probably lastinguntil the end of 2021and perhaps beyondis anticipated.The mainobjectives
of this study represent in(1) How the Egyptian government managed the COVID-19 global health
pandemic to supportitshospitality industry? (2)How chain-managed five-star hotels in Egypt responded
to the COVID-19 global health pandemic?
Literature review
Governmentsresponse to COVID-19
At the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine was expected to take at least 18 months as
advised by experts (Elmousalami & Hassanien, 2020).Recently, there are many vaccines against COVID-
19 in development (Reiter, Pennell, &Katz, 2020). However,somesegments ofcommunities seem to be
quite hesitant in getting vaccinated(Chou & Budenz, 2020).It is recommendedthat governments embrace
amulti-stakeholder approach (Nunkoo & Ramkissoon, 2016; Ramkissoon, 2020a) to enable businesses to
start getting back to a ‘new normal’. There is an urgent need to ensure that the key stakeholders are
consulted including the local community (Hassan & Ramkissoon, 2020;Ramkissoon & Sowamber,2020)
whose voice is often not adequately listened to.
5
Some countries and regions such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam managed COVID-19's spread
building on the 2003 SARS experience(DeWit et al., 2020).With a view to protect businesses over the
long term, governments areworking onnationalisingor renationalisingairline assets (see Baum & Hai,
2020). Fiscal stimulus packages were implemented by governments to protect public health andprovide
moreincomestabilityto residents(DeWit et al., 2020).For instance, theChinese government has set fiscal
and financial policies, provided special fund support, reduced tax and rent cost, and provided services
electronically (Chen et al., 2020). In Dubai,the government provided international workforce with the
permission to stay until the end of 2020, for those who lost their jobsas a consequence of the pandemic
(Haak-Saheem, 2020).The Indonesian government worked on the reallocation of fiscal policy, labour
protection, rescheduling of loan repayment fromSMEs, and tax incentives policy(DeWit et al., 2020).The
Moroccan government invested in awareness campaigns sensitizing people about the harmful impact of
COVID-19 (de Freitas & Stedefeldt, 2020).
There arerestrictions set by many countries to avoid social congregations (Seetharaman,2020).The
government in Rwanda postponed commonwealth heads of government meeting and provided funding to
support all businesseshighly impactedbythe global COVID-19 healthpandemic (Rwigema, 2020).
As for Egypt, tourism is a dominant sector. The 2018/19 earnings from tourism provided USD 12.6
billion (4.2 % of GDP) to the economy (CBE, 2020).Egypt has had more than its fair share of crises.Based
onRadwan (2017),during the Egyptian crises such as the political turbulence in 2011 and the Russian
aircraft crash crisis in Sinai in 2015. Themajority of four and five-star hotels intheSharm El-Sheikh and
Hurghadacitiesof Egyptwerenotverysatisfied with the support provided by the governmental bodies to
allow their business to sustain in the marketplace.In particular,theywere not satisfied with financial and
technical support,andwith initiatives taken topromotedomestic tourism by the government. In addition,
therewerenoincentives includingtax exemption, revoking due debts, minimizing loan interests, and
insurance.
Even though the revolution of the 25th of January 2011 and the financial crisis of 2008 had
witnessed demand downturn for hotels and other tourist facilities in Egypt, official bodiesdid not handle
these crises effectively to mitigatenegativeimpacts.Strategies implemented for crisis management
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included undertaking marketing campaigns, providing technical and financial support for individual hotels,
providing proper security service, encouraging domestic tourism, participating in international tourist
exhibitions, and hosting international events (Mohammad, Jones, Dawood, & Fayed, 2016).
In the COVID-19 context in Egypt,government has suspendedallflights and locked hotels,
restaurantsandcafes since March 2020 (CGTN, 2020). The Egyptian government had set regulations
following the recommendations of WHO. In addition to its tourism and hospitality sector, COVID-19also
had a harmful effect on Egypt’s manufacturing and foreign financial sectors.TheEgyptian government
implementedsome procedures tohelp small and medium enterprises (El-Khishin, 2020). It has provided
extra human and financial resources needed to prevent the outbreak of the virus(Hasab et al., 2020).
Tourism and hospitality businesses’ response to COVID-19
September 11terrorist attacks in 2001, SARS pandemic in 2003, and the global economic crisis in
2008 are some well documentedcrises which impacted on global tourism (Gössling et al., 2020; Henderson
& Ng, 2004; Leung & Lam, 2004).Content analysis of newspaper and television coverage in 2009 was
employed to explore the coverage of the SARS pandemic in the media in the Netherlands. Media coverage
was described as exhaustive and disturbing, and alarming (Vasterman & Ruigrok, 2013).
The media and academic literature alsodocumentedthat COVID-19 continues to impact tourism
and hospitality (Deb & Nafi, 2020), evidenced by job loss in some of the large chain hotels e.g.,Marriott
and Hilton (USAToday, 2020), and airlines (e.g., British Aiways, Qantas). Gössling et al. (2020)
highlighted that tourist attractions and the accommodation sector proclaimed the greatest slump in their
staff figures. In March 2020, Hilton Worldwide advised lenders to get a discreet $1.75 billion under a
revolving loan to save money and to sustain elasticity “in light of the dilemma in the global markets” (Skift,
2020).
Thepandemic has had a destructivedetrimentaleffect on the hospitality industry globally (Gössling
et al., 2020;Majeed &Ramkissoon, in press).Moreover, firms reducedemployees' salaries, had staff laid
off, and implemented work from home (Jasmine, 2019). Wang, Hong, Li, and Gao (2020) argue marketing
innovation strategies need to be properly implemented during this pandemic e.g.,reservations cancellation
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due to COVID-19 crisis.Vardarlıer (2016) recommends avoiding dismissing employees during a crisis by
rearranging wages, reorganizing hours of work, and abrogating bonus and rewards payments.Moreover, it
remainscritical for hotels to carry outemergency procedures,cleanliness and sanitation practices, and
health screening of personnel to manage crises related to infectious illnesses (Henderson & Ng 2004).Te
healthand safety of staffremainsparamount in the COVID-19 pandemic (Rosemberg, 2020) and other
crises.
Several smallbusinessesimpactedby COVID-19have opted for employees’ layoffs(Bartiket al.,
2020).Seetharaman (2020) highlighted organizationshave hadmany employees’ hours reducedas a
consequence of the virus.A number of restaurantscontinueto mitigate thenegativeeffects of this pandemic
by localfooddelivery and using online sales tools to provide their services and products(Jones, 2020).
Restaurants try to build resilience in the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing sanitary legislation
and food safety practices, training their staff on hygiene and sanitation, and usingsocial media to announce
implementation of health and hygiene to build consumerstrust in food and beverage services (de Freitas
& Stedefeldt, 2020). Thesurvival of hospitality businessesis basedon increasing the demand for their
services and products(Gursoy & Chi, 2020).Additionally, digitalization in delivering products and
services, redesigning products, innovative delivery channels, designing alternative digital products and
services, and participating with specialists in ecosystem are some of theimportant strategies to face this
pandemic (Akshiq, Rezapourgham, & Ramkissoon, 2020;Seetharaman, 2020). Haoet al.(2020) exhibited
that the hotel industry in China adopted innovative measures to revitalize performance andprotect
employees and customers via implementing social responsibilities.Moreover, Elbaz et. al (2020)
investigated the influence of workleisure conflict (WLC) on the performance of employees in Egyptian
hotels and travel agencies through the mediating role of employee burnout related to emotional exhaustion,
cynicism and professional efficacy.
According to Radwan (2017), as a result of the Arab Spring and the political turbulence in 2011,
the tourism and hospitality industry in Egypt had witnessed a demand downturnminimizing employees’
wages. In November 2015,severalcountriesincludingRussia and Britain stopped theirinternationalflights
afterthe Russian aircraft crash in Sinai,Egypt. Thisled to a great decrease in hotelroomsales,hospitality
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