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Friday, 21 June, 2019, 17 : 23 PM [IST]

Hotel operations get stressed in Chennai due to water crisis

Acute water shortage due drought conditions in the State of Tamil Nadu has put the hospitality industry in the capital city, Chennai under stress. There are an estimated 8,000 hotels different sizes and stature in the city and suburbs. A medium-scale hotel requires a minimum of 150 KL water on an average day to maintain its operations. While most of the demand for water for these hotels are met through private vendors who operate water trucks, even those become scarce and expensive since the crisis erupted.

While hoteliers, TravelBiz Monitor spoke to didn’t report closure of operations by hotels and restaurants in the city due to water shortage, they did concede that the situation is going from bad to worse and things might turn really bad in case the rains stay away for few more weeks.  “Hotels are managing it somehow by paying more than double for water we are getting through private vendors. But it will be difficult to continue if the dry spell continues for long,” said MP Purushothaman, CMD of Empee Hotels which owns Hilton Chennai. 

“We depend heavily on private tanker owners.  Earlier they used to supply from water sources in 10 km radius.  Now they are arranging it from water sources 40 and 50 km away from the city.  Naturally, the cost has gone up,” says Dr M Venkada Subbu of Tamil Nadu Hotels Association (TNHA). The restaurants have started switching over to banana leaves in place of plates to save water in the process, he says, however, even the supply of banana leaves is hit because of shortage and crop damage, he says.

Confirming the real stress the industry is facing in the city, Rupam  Datta, General Manager of Feather Hotels said, “City hotels have been on rough phase with daily operation. Though it has not impacted the occupancy yet, but operations have been stressed a lot. First of all, to constantly arrange the water supply and negotiate and surrender to the sudden high increase of water supply. At times, we don't even know, if we will have the supply at all, or not. They have not been regular with their supply.” The cost of the water has risen 50 to 100% in the last few weeks, he admits. 

The hospitality industry is also trying to sensitise the guests and visitors on the shortage of vital liquid in the city and the state due to unprecedented drought conditions the state is going through, and make them cooperate with the situation in hand.  “Yes, we are displaying in rooms and public areas to sensitize guests about the water shortage. But, we cannot force them to use less water,” says Purushothaman.

At Feathers Hotel, every guest is briefed about it on arrival and asked to cooperate. “Every hotel has been making effort to reach out to all guest with an appeal to help us saving as much water as possible. There are personal letters from the Management to guest seeking their understanding at this time of crisis. A brief is made to every guest upon arrival and we could experience a very kind acceptance from our guest,” informs Datta.  

Due to shortage of rains last year and also because of the delayed monsoon this year, Chennai is facing acute shortage of water in the city with four reservoirs quenching the thirst of the city going dry.  

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