Fort Young Hotel lays off scores of employees due economic impact of COVID-19

A section of FYH which has been undergoing renovations after it was badly damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017

Close to seventy hotel employees in Dominica have become the latest economic victims of COVID-19 as this deadly pandemic continues to wreak havoc on lives and livelihoods all over the world.

Dominica has been fortunate to have lost no one, so far, to the deadly coronavirus but the country’s economy is reeling from the impact of the contagion. The hotel sector has been dealt a particularly severe blow.

The management of one Dominica’s premier hotels, the Fort Young Hotel, has announced that it is now operating on a skeleton staff, having had to take the most difficult decision to lay off workers.

The layoff is being attributed to the slowdown in activities at the hotel due to the COVID -19 pandemic which has had a crippling effect on the tourism industry. Since the full effect of the pandemic manifested in March, many of the hotel’s guests would have returned to their homeland and the shutting down of the island’s borders have virtually brought activities to a grinding halt.

Chairman of Fort Young Hotel, Gregor Nassief, in a statement to staff explained that from the middle of March to April, they have tried to maintain a level of operation and to keep as many staff as possible on payroll as they tried to cushion the impact of the evolving crisis.

“We are also trying to get a grip on how long the tourism economy will take to improve and we were also waiting to understand the details of government’s stimulus plan. Throughout all this time, we felt it best to ask you to be on non-pay leave as opposed to laying you off because in that way we could call you back once we felt that we could start back the operations,” Nassief explained.

He further stated that in the current circumstances, it was in the best interest of the hotel to lay off staff since there was no definite sight in terms of the hotel returning to its normal operations.

“In the current scenario, we have realized that the recovery would take much longer and also comforted by the fact that government’s stimulus will give a level of income support, we now think that it is the appropriate time to move to a layoff scenario. One of the key reasons for that is that we don’t know how long that will last,” Nassief stated.

He labeled the situation “difficult” but said it is being done in the best interest of the Fort Young Hotel.

“It is something which was very difficult for us to do but we have to concentrate on the financial health of the company so we can bring it back as soon as we can and reemploy everyone,” the hotelier said.

Nassief made it clear that the Fort Young Hotel is not shutting down.

“We have a core department, security, accounts, reservations and marketing for persons who wish to come and book,” he said.

Nassief revealed to Dominica News Online (DNO) that about 68-69 employees of the hotel were laid off and those still employed have all decided to take a fifty percent pay cut while he has decided to forgo a salary.

“As the Chairman, my salary has been cut to zero. The rest of the management staff that remains have taken between a 50-70 percent pay cut and even those fully employed like the security, have taken a pay cut…we are all trying to sacrifice for each other,” Nassief said.

Meanwhile, another prominent hotelier who preferred to remain anonymous, told to DNO that the relief measures announced by the government do not address the situation of the major foreign exchange earner and major employer which he says is tourism.

“Fort Young Hotel’s modern firing is a testament to the view that tourism is not going to recover soon. It will be in the doldrums till at least December or so of 2021,” the hotelier said. “Even if we are soon declared COVID-19 free, hotels and other service providers will not have any business until the economies in the source countries recover economically and people again feel confident to travel many hours in an enclosed aircraft cabin.”

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29 Comments

  1. Let's be real
    May 27, 2020

    So say skerrit didnt waste, borrow, or steal any money..whatever you want to call it. No big campaign, no artists and he had all the money sitting in the treasury…ya’ll really think he could bailout all Dominican businesses??…we’re talking about a pandemic..even the large countries struggling. what do we really expect? Sometimes we have to put politics aside and just shut up…the effects of covid19 will be felt globally and we can only hope for the best..the tourism industry in particular will get a tremendous blow.. nobody could have predicted this. No government can rescue everybody..may God help us all..internationally

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 27
    • Frank N Stein
      May 27, 2020

      You need to get REAL and put on your glasses. If you cannot see how the 70 mill wasted on elections could have assisted us if it was in the treasury, you are more wicked than Skerrit. I know your diatribe is directed and the usual simpleton labourites but remember there are others reading your cow dung and it stinks.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 4
    • Toto
      May 27, 2020

      No excuses for Skerrit partner. We escaped lightly with virus. Is that money, our money burning a hole in his pocket. Shut up and help the people of Dominica I say.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2
  2. May 27, 2020

    DNO i know my comments are an inconvenient truth that’s why you delete them.
    But I have another avenue through sources like ” Bwa Banday” , he’ll deal with you all.

    ADMIN: This response was posted under your previous comment: Your comments were published. Comments are typically published within 1 – 2 working days, most within 24 hours.

  3. May 27, 2020

    Well said Bwa Banday.
    This is Biblical.

  4. Hold on
    May 27, 2020

    My God will cause me to live to see the downfall of the Evil Skerrit and all his Evil and greedy supporters that caused Dominica to be where she is today. One Evil voice today but many more to follow

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5
  5. Looking
    May 27, 2020

    Its rather sad and unfortunate that so many people are unemployed due to this global crises. Could government’s response have been better?. Absolutely. See what the government of St. Kitts have done (120 Million stimulus). Dominica’s CBI was doing much better than St. Kitts, but we wasted our monies on elections and on politicians to feed their ego’s and charisma. Range developments and Montreal Management Inc have been building apartments and other hotels with no procurement process (projects of this nature should have been advertised to the lowest bidder to save monies). Our passport monies are being wasted. We have seen millions wasted on elections and cool-outs. We have seen our own monies put in charities to make politicians look good. Musicians, bus drivers were swimming in honey during elections. We could easily have at least 200 million at our disposal to take care of our citizens. But alas, next election, millions will be wasted in fetes and entertainment to blind the…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 4
  6. For Love Of Country
    May 27, 2020

    Question: Is the Fort Young Hotel another victim of government dependency syndrome?

    Like civilians, Dominican businesses have become too dependent on government’s handouts and failed “year-in-year-out” to develop an attitude of ‘self-help’. On the surface of things, how the bubble bursts may seem to be a simple, unremarkable event but that’s the way the building block crumbles.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3
  7. Goodwill
    May 27, 2020

    The signs of the times; but with perseverance we will bounce back.

    • The old Prophet
      May 27, 2020

      ,@ goodwill, It is not just the sign of the times but the result of when people that know better or claim to know God, supporting what they know is Evil

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
  8. My little take
    May 27, 2020

    As I listened to Mr. Nassief these words from Jesus came to mind “But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come”Matthew 24:8.
    Mr. Nassief hopes that things might charge by December or 2021 but boy, that’s just wishful thinking because the professionals are not seeing Covid-19 going away anytime soon and, even if it went away by July, it’s going to take a long long time before tourists decide to go on a cruise ship or plane. In fact soon many of the cruise lines and planes will be under lawsuit that will force them to file for bankruptcy.
    The question we must ask ourselves now is, where do we go from here? What do we turn to? Unfortunately I don’t see light ahead especially with a very poor leader as Skerrit. Right now our only hope is for all of us to put our politics and religion behind us and demand that Skerrit and Savarin go about their business. In other words, get rid of the accused thing that has put us where we are. Covid-19 just exposed our Evils.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3
  9. Toto
    May 27, 2020

    I am really sorry for people to lose their jobs like that, honestly but Gregor that new front of your hotel looks right ugly like a wedding dress on a pig.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1
  10. Anansi
    May 27, 2020

    Boy alas – Passport sales down; agriculture not recovering soon because other countries have more aggressive marketing agents than us; tourism in a crypto state – only certain people who have mega mansions doing well. As I have always said, we should be more concerned for the aftermath of the pandemic than of the pandemic itself. The virus is a political and economic one, not a health one.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1
  11. Trouble I see
    May 27, 2020

    Dominica is in very serious trouble and if one had any doubt just listen to Gregoire Nassief, as he echoes the hopelessness that he sees ahead. Mr. Nassief painted a really dark and gloomy picture of the future he sees ahead for Dominica but unfortunately, that’s the case Mr. Linton had been making for years and instead of working with him is sue they were sewing him. For years Mr. Linton has been saying that the CBI and tourism industry is fragile and Skerrit should use the CBI monies to build other engines of growth. Less than 6 months after a very expensive election we find ourselves in a situation where we have nothing to turn to. Mr Nassief said a lot but here is one point that stayed: ” those still employed have all decided to take a fifty percent pay cut”. I wonder how many of them were taking over $1500 dollars home? Now they have to take 50% cut. Compare that to our 18 useless and lazy ministers that take home $8000 home and yet no one has decided to take a pay cut.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2
  12. Annon
    May 27, 2020

    This whole plandemic is an economic take down of the whole world and humanity. No more travel industry, no more recreational sports, no more unification of people. Take a close look at was they are calling ‘essential businesses’. Every business that enables someone to work is essential. Why are people so receptive to taking orders and not questioning authority? Because they are taught to do so in schools.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6
  13. Bob Denis
    May 27, 2020

    The Exploitation of Wo/Man in the name of Business, have exposed the deceit and Hypocrisy that exists in Man/Wo made society. As we have seen, in times of Crisis, Humane Atributes are thrown out the Window. Mr Nassief, whose Family have Historically RIPPED off the Islanders, can afford not to be SALARIED, enough have been generated for COMFORT. Caribbean States who depends on Tourism/Serving to build their Economies, will live through some Dark Starless Nights, the worst is yet to come. The EGO generated by being employed at the Colonial Hotel, have gone up in smoke, Those who take a Cut in Salary, will never reclaim loss wages, and the reemployed will enter at reduced wages and conditions, mark my words. Just like the PANDEMIC of EMANCIPATION put the African into OBLIVION, this mordern day Pandemic have come full circle with the same level of Pain and Discomfort. Behind the SKIN TEETH, is a FULL HOUSE of HORORS.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6
    • gods child
      May 27, 2020

      I think DOMINICA should start deporting the non citizens I mean that are not born in Dominica back home….We esteem them so highly in their own land they are not accepted. I mean white or black. Trump is not a very good person but uses LOGIC no more green cards or chain migration. He has to take care of home first. First my comments are never posted but that is okay to…The truth will speak. We can survive we have fish, Dasheen.. Green bananas and all the natural foods. Dominicians are quite generous they will give to their neighbors. Let us stop all these imported foods that’s causing cancer and messing with our Auto immune system. JUST SAYING…Let us learn to be contended in what sitiuations we are in…JAH

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5
      • Toto
        May 29, 2020

        Man, be real. Suppose they do that for all Dominicans making a living overseas as well and send them all back to Dominica. You think that is a good idea bro., even Roosevelt Skerrit would not agree with you.

      • James
        May 29, 2020

        yes, let us go back to an agrarian life style, we can all grow vegetables and make money trying to sell them to our neighbors who also will be growing vegetables. We can live without imported goods, just rice & beans. No cars, cellphones. Make our own shoes and clothing. Back to the good old Stone Age!

  14. Lord Help us
    May 26, 2020

    That’s very bad news and the sad thing is, I don’t see things getting better anytime soon and, with the bad and visionless government we have all lights on the dashboard are RED indicating danger. We got a lot of money after Maria plus passport money; but Skerrit squandered it as if he thought he had a money tree he could shake when he wants. Now if he didn’t allow Ross to go to Barbados at least we would still have a little penny coming in to help us through the storm. But the man chased them out, killed Agriculture so he could put all his eggs into the corrupt sale of passports. I can tell you he is not going to sell too many passports now because everywhere is closed and even when they reopen immigration is going to change drastically. In as much as I am still upset with those from the DIASPORA and laborites that voted Skerrit, I must say my heart goes out to my country especially those that voted for change. At least in the US we all got a $1200 cheque and food stamps

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
    • God's child
      May 27, 2020

      And unemployment plus 600.00 wkly to all unemployed hopefully it stretches till 2021 and another stimulus check. Lord Help Me…. we can’t compare Dominica with that.

      SHALOM

  15. Ibo France
    May 26, 2020

    The Tourism Industry has been knocked unconscious by the Coronavirus. A full recovery is farfetched. It is inevitable that the hotel employees will be laid off in droves and their lives put in limbo. Mr. Nassief, chairman of the Fort Young Hotel, said the government’s stimulus package will bring much relief to the laid off workers. I’m paraphrasing. Is this man permanently ‘high’ on some kind of mind altering substance? Bad leadership, corruption and lack of vision has made the crisis many times worse than it ought to be.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
  16. Stressfree
    May 26, 2020

    why didn’t we use our CBI money to really established ourselves as the authentic Nature island and, an organic island of the world? why didn’t we position ourselves to a hiking nation parallel to the likes of sandals? Why didn’t we replicate rather than allow the aerial tramp to die and make ourselves an aerial tram destination our hill tops are not that far apart, Imagine an aerial tram experience between laudat to boliing lake ,to Delices and laudat to emerald pool and from Morne Au diable to the cabrits to Morne Espanoel to Syndicate to melville hall to the Kallinago Territory. isn’t that feasible and a majestic idea and the same time marrying it if agriculture, culture and forestry.. Instead we went out chasing waterfalls ,trying to compete with other tourism islands trying to build international airport and to try to attack large hotel chains; now we are stuck with the likes of Kempemski, and Moroccan hotel and sliver whatever; damn stupid thinking .,

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3
  17. Bwa-Banday
    May 26, 2020

    Ebeh chou-moon-paytay!!! But all the time government giving you free labour under the NEP Program what were you doing with the savings? Just 5 months ago you all were basking in the glory of millions of passport dollars, plus government sponsored free labour now Skerro doh have no more money to give because his handler at MM doh want to let go of more money is we the people paying for it. He rather too-fay with the 1.2 Billion and the $400 Million I see. The lady in Dubai can’t even sell a passport now :twisted: :twisted: Just maybe Skerrit will bail you out soon instead of the bus drivers under the stimulus because he will say you too big to fail. Why don’t you go take the 1% interest loan and keep the employees working?

    Well Ivor, Kempinski was first, Fort Young second and it looks like Jungle Bay will be next. You all stood by and even help Skerrit spend money like water last December but god is not a Dcan Police Deputy Chief. He will day-fon-say you when he ready.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 6
    • Batibou River
      May 28, 2020

      The December election was, like the two previous ones, based on lies and false promises. The results were manipulated by the DLP and as such invalid and void.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  18. Stressfree
    May 26, 2020

    The cabalist will still defend their puppet; they know in their hearts he is not the best thing for Dominica but he is in their best interest so why not keep the status quo. If Sam Rapheal, Gregor Nassief and the others were truly interested in growing an authentic, locally home grown tourism product, if they were conscientious and not selfish,if they were really concerned about the local man who keep their business and product local they would encourage their kingpin to at least put monies towards helping the Garraway, castle comfort, Anchorage, and Evergreen Hotels , Homegrown , Home cultured hotels, among others to get back on their feet , these hotels have forty and fifty years in operation and therefore have a loyal clientele but no those selfish greedy Hyenas allowed their puppet go after so called the high end hotels allowing our locals to suck salt, Fire burn them Jah!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 8
  19. me
    May 26, 2020

    Old news with bulky headline…..video circulating since morning on whatsapp and facebook. Wake up.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11
  20. Frank N Stein
    May 26, 2020

    Where were you when your friend Skerrit was wasting our money on election. You not sorry at all

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 7
  21. Nadia Buke
    May 26, 2020

    Gregor is saying that he has given up his salary as though it’s something he will miss. That makes no difference to him because his bread is buttered on both sides how hypocrite. I feel sorry for the poor man because he is worrying how is he going to feed his family but God will provide.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 6

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