Empty rooms stare in the face of hotel owners

Despite relaxation of lockdown norms, visitors just keep away

Published - October 08, 2020 10:02 pm IST

The occupancy rate in most of the hotels and lodges in Madurai hovers around just 20%.

The occupancy rate in most of the hotels and lodges in Madurai hovers around just 20%.

Madurai

Relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown norms notwithstanding, the occupancy rate in most of the hotels in Madurai is only around 20%. The large number of unsold rooms is causing consternation among the hoteliers who have borrowed heavily to keep their establishments running.

Madurai Hotel and Lodge Owners Association president K.P. Navaneetha Krishnan says the occupancy ratio at most hotels and lodges, irrespective of their size, is only around 15% to 20%. “Though some hotels have reduced their room tariff by half, the customer footfall has hardly increased,” he says.

S. Senthil Nathan, Director (Operations), Hotel Germanus, says many of the business conferences and meetings that used to regularly take place at the hotels, are now being conducted as webinars due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Many businesses have not shown interest in booking halls or rooms for the next few months,” he says.

Currently, only those who travel by their own vehicles from other places stay at hotels and lodges, and only when it’s absolutely necessary, says Mr. Krishnan. “The tourist inflow has also not picked up as people are scared about their safety in these COVID-19 times. Many customers keep enquiring about the safety precautions that we follow in hotels,” he says.

Wallets are light

Since the pandemic has also financially affected people from all walks of life, they have very little disposable income. So, spending their leisure time at hotels will be their last priority,” says Mr. Senthil Nathan. The income is meagre, but the hotels and lodges have electricity bills and other bills to pay, and salary for their staff. “Regular disinfection of the hotel and taking up other safety precautions due to the pandemic has added to the expenditure,” he says.

The lower footfall has financially affected all hotels and lodges, says A. Ramasubbu, proprietor of Sai Ram Residency. “Those who have borrowed heavily from banks are suffering the most as they find it hard to repay the installments,” he says.

G. Vasudevan, vice-president, Tamil Nadu Travel Mart Society, and Director of Fortune Pandiyan Hotel, says usually hotels have a occupancy ratio of 70% during this period of the year. “It will take more months for businesses to return to normality. But it is important that people follow safety precautions by wearing face masks, frequently washing hands and maintaining personal distance in public places,” he says.

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