Visakhapatnam: A long way to recovery for pandemic-hit hotel industry

After a long time, people return to restaurants in Visakhapatnam as the curfew relaxation period gets extended from 6 am to 6 pm  	Photo: Vasu Potnuru
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After a long time, people return to restaurants in Visakhapatnam as the curfew relaxation period gets extended from 6 am to 6 pm Photo: Vasu Potnuru

Highlights

  • Industry sources say cost reduction measures like staff and pay cuts are inevitable to stay afloat
  • Fear of contracting Covid, fallen incomes have made people hesitant to dine in restaurants
  • But increased take outs, some long-staying guests, quarantine meal deliveries somewhat helped the industry survive

Visakhapatnam: For most hotels, further relaxation in curfew timings brings a respite as a considerable chunk of diners returned to hotels to place an order and savour their favourite dish.

Though the prevailing pandemic situation doesn't provide a conducive ambience for many to come out of their homes and dine out, hoteliers say it is still a long way to go before they call it 'business as usual'. But for now, the two aspects the restaurateurs are seriously focussed on are – recovery and survival.

Even when the curfew timings have been relaxed, challenges continue to mount for Covid-battered hospitality sector. "Business has certainly slowed down. The situation is unlikely to improve in the near future. But despite the downward trend, we somehow survived last year. Thanks to some long-staying guests and increased takeaways," says S Ajit Kumar, general manager of Fortune Inn Sree Kanya.

At a time when the hospitality sector was picking up the pieces from the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the second wave has again put the brakes on the industry's recovery. Staff cuts, pay cuts and other cost-effective measures appeared to be inevitable to stay afloat.

Despite the fall in the overall restaurant business, there is a spike in food deliveries through food delivery aggregators as well as direct pickups. "People are yet to overcome Covid-induced fear to visit a restaurant and dine. Hotel industry thrives on travellers. Another revenue-generating means for the industry is weddings. With restricted invitees and limited weddings, the pace of recovery has further slowed down. As disposable income dropped to a large extent, dining out is the last option people look forward to at the moment," explains D Manik Raj, managing director of hotel Vivana. Thankfully, quarantine meals delivered to people during peak pandemic season and rise in takeaways added to the alternative revenue source for the hotel. Although hygiene and safety protocols are accorded priority, hoteliers say that it takes a long time for the recovery momentum to pick-up pace.

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