BHOPAL: The second wave of the Covid pandemic has put the tourism and hospitality sector—which was slowly trying to recover the losses it had suffered during the first phase of the pandemic—under renewed stress. The rise in the number of corona-positive cases has reduced the footfalls in hotels and restaurants across the state. In the cities, where an abnormal surge was witnessed, restaurants were allowed to open, but only for the ‘take-away’ and not ‘dine-in’ facility. This has kept families away from restaurants.
Moreover, restaurants see a normal trend of their weekend business picking up. But, now, with the lockdown being imposed in most of the cities on Saturday and Sunday, business has suffered a serious setback, said Manoj Ahuja, owner of a restaurant. “We were moving fast on the path of recovery. We also came out with several innovative ideas to boost our business, but, then, this second wave hit us hard,” said Keshav Shad, general manager (Operations), Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department.
Not only the hospitality sector, but most of the businesses were trying to recover. Although they had not recovered fully, everybody could witness a silver lining. Nobody had expected this kind of a shock, said Shad. The hotel owners in Bhopal, Indore and Khajuraho have also been taken aback because of a lack of foreign tourists which has hit their revenues hard. Foreign exchange earnings have dropped almost to nil.
Resort owners near the tiger sanctuaries, too, are in constant worry. “People preferred to go to forests—that is the safest and healthiest place during a pandemic—but announcements of lockdowns at various places has shattered all our hopes,” said the manager of a resort. Hotel and restaurant owners have pinned their hopes on the vaccination drive. “The pace of the vaccination drive across India should be increased so that people start feeling safe and business returns to its normal track,” said the general manager of MPT.