Renewed COVID curbs deal a body blow to hotel industry
City-based hotels report significant drop in business
Hotels in the city are beginning to feel the heat with the restrictive timings enforced by the government in the wake of the suspected second wave of COVID-19 dealing a hammer blow to an already beleaguered industry.
The Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association (KHRA) said the sign of things in store was evident in the significant drop in business city-based hotels had during Vishu. This, the association said, had been the case for the last couple of days ever since the government declared that hotels and shops should down shutters at 9 p.m.
“This being the Ramzan month, a large number of hotels only open in the evening and then having to close down at 9 p.m. severely hampers their business,” said Azees Musa, Ernakulam district president, KHRA.
A majority of KHRA members has a seating capacity of 25 or less, and hence operating with half the occupancy is really unfeasible. Remaining closed rather than operating is a better option in comparison, it is being pointed out.
“We will fully cooperate with government restrictions in compliance with our obligations in the face of a surging pandemic. But the government should at least review the closure timing and grant an additional hour or two since people who dine out prefer to drop in at hotels much later. Anyway, not many people would be coming, as scared they are in the prevailing situation, and an extra hour or two would not significantly worsen the situation,” said Mr. Musa.
He added that as per the present notification, hotels are not even allowed to operate even to cater to parcels even after the closure time unlike during the height of the pandemic the previous year. “Though we have our own platform to cater to online orders, the provision that those who are part of the GST compounding scheme are not allowed to deal in online business dampens that prospect as well,” said Mr. Musa.
He said around 6,000 hotels, especially along highways and catering for tourists and travellers, who were members of KHRA had closed down under the impact of the pandemic so far.
The Federation of Kerala Hotels Association, mainly made up of three- and four-star hotels, said the enforcement of renewed restrictions would be another blow to their members already operating with scaled down workforce. “It will be difficult for hotels to survive in a place like Ernakulam,” said Ajith C. Nair, secretary of the federation.