Saudi quarantine offers temporary lifeline to struggling hotels
Saudi Arabia has quarantined thousands of people in hotels, some in luxury suites, to combat Covid-19, throwing a temporary lifeline to an industry struggling just months after tourist visas were launched.
Faced with nearly 4,500 novel coronavirus infections -- the highest in the Gulf -- the petro-state has halted air travel, locked down cities and imposed nationwide curfews in a crisis that has dealt a blow to the nascent tourism sector.
Offering a ray of hope, however, the government is splurging millions of dollars to quarantine thousands of overseas travellers and those exposed to infected people in otherwise empty hotels around the kingdom.
One four-star hotel in central Riyadh with 100-plus rooms was left with only five guests in mid-March when the Saudi government offered four million riyals ($1.06 million) a month for it to be used as a quarantine facility, an industry source told AFP.