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Thursday, 09 July, 2020, 14 : 44 PM [IST]

HRAWI expects 25-40% hotels to open in the first week; hopes for 33% capacity limit to increase as time progress

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has welcomed the State Government’s decision to allow hotels in the State to re-open beginning today. The Association has asked its members to adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as has been outlined in the COVID-19 guidelines specifically designed for the hospitality industry. Hotels are completely geared up for welcoming guests, however at the moment are unsure of how many will actually check-in. The HRAWI has said that with travel restrictions still in place and with a lot of hotel staff unavailable, the initial phase after re-opening may remain subdued.

“The decision to allow hotels to re-open has brought the industry a big relief and we thank the Government for it. Our member hotels are geared up to welcome guests and have been prepared for over a couple of months with the trainings provided to them based on Government SOPs. It can’t be said enough, the hospitality industry and especially, its staff has been at the forefront of the pandemic and are the real Corona Warriors. Hotels have served people from day one of the lockdown by way feeding the needy and providing rooms for the quarantined and health workers. At the moment, we are just glad that the stagnation has ended and things will begin to move. We have also made a strong case for restaurants to open too and hopefully sooner than later, we will be allowed to do so,” says Mr Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, President, HRAWI.

The Association expects only about 25 to 40 per cent of the hotels across the State to re-open in the first week which may go up to 70 per cent in a month from now.

“Many hotels are facing shortage of staff and are also low on working capital. This will be the biggest challenge for hotels as they decide to open doors to their guests. So, our estimate is that only about 30 to 35 per cent of the total hotels in the State may immediately re-open and others will gradually join. There are many hotels which have been very hard hit and these may not re-open at all or even if they do, it will take some time. We expect roughly around 70 per cent of the hotels to resume operations in the near future,” says Pradeep Shetty, Vice President, HRAWI.

On the back of travel restrictions, HRAWI has expressed apprehension about actual bookings that hotels might receive. With most offices also adopting the WFH policy and with people gatherings not allowed, it anticipates the MICE segment and corporate bookings to be next to nil.

“Other than staff deficiency and liquidity issues, the factor which will influence a hotel’s decision to re-open will be the amount of bookings it receives. Demand is anyways very low due to travel restrictions and general restricted activities. We are still in the midst of a pandemic. People are generally wary of everything and experimenting will not be the first thing on their minds. Despite the fact that hotels are fully capable of managing footfall during this phase, it will be a wait and watch game,” adds Shetty.

The Association has expressed hope that the Government considers increasing the limit of 33 per cent capacity if signs are encouraging. Meanwhile, it is persuading the Government to allow restaurants to be allowed to re-open as restaurants are the only option outside of home for several working class people employed in the essential services.

“Hospitality was the first industry to get hit and most unfortunately, it will be the last to recover. However, we are a resilient bunch and we will remain optimistic about the future. As bookings begin to trickle in, we will be able to instill confidence in our guests which we hope will encourage other guests to check-in. When this happens, we will seek Government’s permission to increase the present capacity of 33 per cent,” concludes Kohli.

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