The Hotel Sofitel Paris Bercy in Paris. Mark Willis, chief executive officer of Accor SA for the Middle East and Africa said positive signs in hotel industry are starting to appear in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Image Credit: Bloomberg News

Dubai: Accor SA has cut 800 jobs in the Middle East and Africa due to the pandemic and sees some positive signs emerging from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, according to its chief executive office for the Middle East and Africa.

Most of its 25,000 employees working in the region have either been furloughed or have reduced working hours, Mark Willis said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday. The group made 800 jobs redundant, he said.

While the global environment remains tough for the industry, positive signs are starting to appear in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, he said. "You can feel the positive vibe in Dubai specifically."

Gulf nations have started to ease lockdown measures. Saudi Arabia plans to curb restrictions gradually and to return to normal by June 21. Dubai has shortened nightly curbs on movement and allowed businesses such as gyms and cinemas to reopen. Kuwait also announced it won't renew its 24-hour curfew.

Still, research firm STR Global estimates that 30% of jobs in Dubai's hotel industry are likely to be lost over the summer until demand recovers.

Though hotels in the UAE have been full at a reduced capacity, Accor doesn't plan to increase prices for the time being, Willis said. "Obviously prices are driven by demand and over the next 6 months, 9 months before we return to some form of normality, that demand will return, but it will return in a slow fashion."