Sunset Hospitality CEO says Covid will help 'clean' the F&B market in Dubai

Antonio Gonzalez believes the hospitality market may emerge stronger for operators and consumers

Gonzalez believes visitors and residents will benefit from a streamlined F&B offering.

Sunset Hospitality CEO Antonio Gonzalez believes that if there are any positives to be taken from the current coronavirus crisis then it’s that it may go some way to stabilising the hospitality market in Dubai.

There are more than 11,000 F&B-related trade licences registered at Dubai Economic Department (DED), while the sector employs over 200,000 people.

The onset of coronavirus has arguably hit the F&B sector the hardest, with the initial lockdown period from March, through to reopenings in May alongside strict health and safety guidelines, promoting social distancing through limits on occupancy levels and ensuring the highest possible levels of sanitisation and cleanliness.

However, despite bearing the brunt of the economic storm, Gonzalez told Arabian Business that the hospitality market may emerge stronger for operators and consumers.

“Obviously the last four or five months has been a very tough situation. It was a very strange time to deal with. On top of that, what people forget, the market was already maturing very fast all across Dubai,” Gonzalez said.

“So you have a market maturing and you have the Covid situation combine like a perfect storm to clean the market in a way, in the sense that now I think we’re going to see a stronger offering, more competitive pricing, better service standards.”

Sunset Hospitality, which operates brands such as Black Tap, Azure and Drift beach clubs among others, has reopened most of its venues, aside from nightclubs, which are still not permitted under government regulations.

Streamlined

The city welcomed the return of international tourists last month and Gonzalez believes visitors and residents will benefit from a streamlined F&B offering.

“Dubai is a victim of its own success. It’s a fantastic city but it’s an even bigger brand than the city itself. The brand Dubai has attracted a lot of offerings in terms of hospitality but also on the services, education, healthcare, real estate,” he said.

“Before Covid it was a maturing market. Dubai in a way has gone from an emerging city to an established, mature city with a solid foundation, but the level of supply was not balancing with that change,” he added.

“In a way, this whole Covid situation is going to help the growth pattern to be more sustainable in the next few years. We’re happy with that because we think it will balance the market a bit better and the consumer will benefit from it.”

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