Pandemic-hit hotel industry further crushed by recent raids

Trend seen of people avoiding Arabic delicacies, eating out in the wake of food safety concerns

Updated - May 11, 2022 07:39 pm IST

Published - May 11, 2022 07:34 pm IST

The frequent rise in the price of commercial cooking gas cylinder coupled with the Statewide inspection of eateries by the Food Safety department seems to have posed another challenge to the hotel industry that is limping back to normalcy after the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

The latest hike in excess of ₹100 has taken the price of a commercial cooking gas cylinder to about ₹2,300, making it tough for hoteliers to avoid effecting a price hike of their own. Last year alone, the price of a commercial cylinder was increased by nearly ₹1,000 through multiple hikes interspersed with marginal drops.

“In fact, I had planned to increase the price a couple of months ago but had resisted considering its impact on my regular clients. But that sentiments won’t help me survive any longer,” said Sujith T., who runs a hotel near Vyttila.

Ajo George, who runs a small eatery near Jos Junction in Ernakulam, is planning to increase price as well citing how the cost of not just the gas cylinder but ingredients used in preparing food keep rising. “The price of tea will be increased from ₹10 to ₹12 and that of meals from ₹40 to ₹45. The fact is that it will still not improve the margins but we cannot effect a hike beyond a point, as it will drive away customers. The majority of the people now pack their lunch, as they cannot afford decent meals from outside at an affordable price,” he said.

If the price rise wasn’t bad enough, the death of a girl owing to alleged food poisoning after consuming shawarma from an unlicensed eatery in Kasaragod dealt a further blow. The incident and the widespread checking by food safety officials in eateries across the State in its wake had an impact especially on outlets dealing in the particular Arabian delicacy in specific and the industry in general.

“We stopped selling Arabic delicacies like Shwarma and Alfam alongside our bakeries at Thammanam and Kaloor, as the demand dropped drastically since the incident. One unscrupulous trader put every one under the cloud,” said Sabu Aravind.

Mujeeb E.M., a government servant, feels that many people are now increasingly opting to eat at home since there seems apprehensions over the quality of food being served in hotels. “While earlier i would not have thought twice before having food from outside, now i would avoid it as much as possible,” he said.

G. Jayapal, State president of Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association, said the entire hotel industry was being put under suspicion owing to the actions of a few unscrupulous elements. “An impression is being created that all the hotels in Kerala sell adulterated and unhygienic food. It is counterproductive at a time when the government is hard-selling Kerala as a tourist destination. We are not against frequent inspections and penal action against the guilty but creating a media circus out of it brings disrepute to the entire industry,” he said.

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