The hospitality industry in Kerala has managed to weather the COVID-19-induced crisis in the tourism sector, primarily due to the increased demand for paid quarantine from Non-Resident Keralite (NoRK) returnees and seamen.
“Barring KTDC [Kerala Tourism Development Corporation] properties, most star hotels in Ernakulam district were initially reluctant to host returnees from other States and countries. Over time, most of them, including over half a dozen five-star properties, have come forward to accommodate them. Over 100 hotels in the district are hosting them as of June 29, while more are enlisting with NoRKA authorities. Similar is the situation in other districts,” said a senior official of Kerala Tourism. They have thus averted retrenchment, unpaid leave, and slashing of salaries of employees beyond a limit.
While most ordinary returnees opt for seven-day quarantine, hundreds of seamen who have returned to Kerala are undergoing 14-day quarantine, mainly in luxury hotels.
On their part, hotels have slashed tariff, while serving three meals (mostly from a fixed menu, since there are curbs on buffets) and tea. All these have resulted in most hotels having more than average room occupancy during what is conventionally off-peak season in Kerala.
People who come to Kerala on business trips and leave within a week, and hence need no mandatory quarantine, too have begun to trickle in due to relaxation of travel curbs. The only condition is that they must keep the hotel informed about their travel history, he added.
Protocols adhered to
Marketing manager of State-run KTDC G.S. Rajmohan said properties at different locales in the State could meet their operational expenses, thanks to hosting people in quarantine.
“All our properties, except in Thekkady and Ponmudi, remain open. Guests are comfortable since COVID-19 protocol, as directed by the Health Department, is being adhered to. They include room delivery of food and complete sanitising of rooms after guests leave. The rooms are assigned to new guests only two or three days after the earlier occupant leaves, he said.
Most private luxury hotels are offering alluring packages to woo guests, including substantially slashed membership fee and the option to pay heavily discounted tariff now and choose a date of stay any time within a year. “The response is picking up. From nil enquires in April and May, the situation has improved much,” said employees in a premium hotel in the city.