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Hotels reopen, owners remain unsure of demand

On Wednesday, Hotel and Restaurant Association Western India said only 10 per cent hotels opened in the state. The association welcomed the government's decision but remained unsure of the demand.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: July 9, 2020 2:59:41 am
maharashtra covid lockdown, maharashtra hotels, maharashtra hotels reopen, maharashtra hotels sop, indian express news A staff member sanitises luggage at a hotel in Mumbai on Wednesday. (Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

THE FIRST day of hotels reopening in the state saw a lukewarm response, even as owners said they did not expect business to start inching towards normal for at least six months with international travel, domestic tourism, and corporate activities stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Hotel and Restaurant Association Western India said only 10 per cent hotels opened in the state. The association welcomed the government’s decision but remained unsure of the demand. It said only about 25 per cent to 40 per cent hotels were expected to reopen in the first week, with most carrying out maintenance and other works to resume functioning.

Pradeep Shetty, vice-president of the association, said there were many challenges to reopening their establishments, including shortage of labour, as many staff members had returned to their home states before or during the lockdown.

“Another issue is that many have been rendered with low working capital with no earning in these four months, while they incurred costs, including maintenance and staff salaries. Even now, every business, including the hotel industry, will depend on demand. With travel restrictions and corporate activity restricted to work from home to avoid large gatherings, we will continue to remain in a precarious situation for at least a few more months,” Shetty said.

He added that hotels will have to initially incur expenses to resume functioning. “The reopening is more about taking baby steps to come into business. We do not expect any traction immediately for at least a month or 45 days,” he added.

The state government, as part of ‘Mission Begin Again’, had notified the reopening of hotels with guidelines to ensure minimum contact and strict distancing measures. Hotels have put in place standard operating procedures, which include QR code-based menus, information, bills and sanitisation of luggage handles, common areas, and hygiene standards for each department. Bookings have also resumed on third-party aggregators but owners said the response has not been high.

A hotel owner in the western suburbs said they were awaiting clarity on guidelines regarding serving alcohol to guests, operating restaurant, and other aspects of guest-staff interface.

Another staff member at a hotel in Khar said they had received guests from among those who wanted to remain in self-isolation for 14 days after travelling to the country on special flights.

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