The Ministry of Commerce, along with other relevant departments, is working on more targeted measures to help the hotel and catering industries recover from the novel coronavirus outbreak, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Chefs prepare meals in a restaurant kitchen in Shanghai for takeout delivery to nearby companies and employees. (Photo: Xinhua)
China has rolled out a slew of measures to minimize the virus' impact on industries. By Wednesday, 22 percent of the Chinese companies in hotel and catering industries said they have benefited from the recent support policies, said Xian Guoyi, director-general of the department of trade in services and commercial services under the ministry.
The hotel and catering industries are expected to recover quickly once the epidemic is over, and the ministry is working with relevant departments on more measures for supporting these sectors, Xian said.
"Some large-scale accommodation and catering companies gained support from bank loans, which has significantly eased their financing pressure," Xian said.
Financial institutions and relevant industry and government departments need to make continued efforts to help stabilize the capital chain of small－and medium-sized firms through financial support, as these firms have suffered heavy losses from the epidemic but have relatively fewer assets as collateral for loans, he said.
Hotels and catering firms are important sectors for stabilizing growth, promoting employment and benefiting people's livelihood. In 2019, the two sectors had an operating income of over 5 trillion yuan ($712 billion) and hired more than 26 million employees, according to the ministry.
To help ease the burden of companies in distress, local governments have introduced a series of supportive policies such as reducing tax, cutting electricity prices and lowering lending rates.
Based on the ministry's data, more and more companies in the catering and hotel industries are now gradually resuming their work and seeing an uptick in revenues, Xian said.
He said that nearly 57 percent of the 20 large chain restaurants that the ministry is in close contact with and over 50 percent of the companies in the hotel industry have resumed work.
In the case of restaurants, resumptions have largely been through food delivery services, Xian said, adding that on Tuesday alone, there were 130,000 take-away orders in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.
Zhang Chao, chairman of the Shandong Time-honored Brand Association, said restaurants can only operate by delivering takeout orders during the epidemic, and delivery services are the key to the survival of catering companies.
The association has urged major takeout platforms to reduce commission fees amid the epidemic, said Zhang in a report published by the Economic Observer.
Currently, Meituan, one of China's biggest takeout platforms, charges 18 percent commission from large chain catering companies and 23 percent from small-and medium-sized ones.