Sumit Suri
Sumit Suri

Indore: About 10,000 employees have lost their jobs as 30 percent hotels and restaurants were forced to shut their doors forever, citing lack of support from government and no other way to survive. President of hotel association Sumit Suri shared this and other troubles of hospitality industry in a one-on-one interview. Following are excerpts from the interview highlighting the situation and possible solutions to keep the industry afloat while fighting covid-19 outbreak:

What is the current situation of hotel industry in Indore?

Hotel industry is facing one of the biggest challenges and has among the biggest hit in terms of business due to Covid-19 outbreak. We will be the last to get out of this business slowdown, as we come in luxury services.

Many units from small restaurants to large scale units are on the verge on shutting down now. Corporate clients have cut down their budget. People are not travelling as much.

Eating at a hygienic restaurant is quite safe, but now, that’s not even a possibility with curfew in the city from 8 pm. People are not be able go out and dine even for special occasions, as it is not possible to return home by 8 pm.

How are you managing your staff and expenses?

Since, there is no source of income we have to cut down our expenses. Hence, we have reduced overheads and electricity usage. Many hotels have chosen to cut off their electricity connection completely so that we are not forced to pay bills without usage. Rent and taxes is a big issue for all of us.

How many employees were relieved in Indore and what’s the possibility in near future?

About 35 per cent hospitality staff has been reduced overall in the industry. Out of this, about 20 to 25 percent staff voluntarily left their jobs to return to their villages. The staff which returned to home is not willing to come back, citing the outspread of corona virus. However, if this situation continues and we are not able to bring the positive sentiment, then a lot of employees will lose their jobs permanently, as many units will shutdown.

Is the wedding season helping bring business back to hotels?

Wedding season is essential for survival of hospitality industry. We were actually hoping and holding on for weddings in December. However, with the announcement of curfew from 8 pm to limitations on weddings, the hope is diminishing. Many weddings have been cancelled. A lot of families have switched over to having a small wedding at home, hence, cancelling or postponing their bookings in hotels. Over 250 weddings were planned till December 14. Now, it is all tipsy.

What relief are you expecting from govt for operation of hotels?

Suri: Even we understand that controlling covid-19 spread is essential, but we need to have a wider and clearer view of hotel industry. First, administration needs to acknowledge that hotels and restaurants are much safer and cannot be kept in the same palette as street vendors. It is easy for us to maintain social distancing and follow all corona virus protocols. Second, we have a lot of in-house guests and restricting us from serving them dinner after 8 pm is not practical. We cannot force everyone to finish their dinner before 8 pm. At least serving meals in rooms should be allowed, especially if we are having weddings guest party residing in hotels.

What is supportive solution that you want from govt?

Suri: Hospitality industry has been extremely supportive of administration and people at large throughout the fight with covid-19. Initially, since March when lockdown was enforced, we gave our facilities and space for free to administration for 70 days. This would have incurred a bill accounting for more than Rs 10 crore. However, we did it for our country and people.

Forget showing appreciation, the administration is not supporting us in anyway. We are already running in losses. The least we expect now is relief in property tax, electricity bill and bar fee, which should not be charged when hotels have not been utilising those facilities.

How can the hotel industry survive through this tough time?

We need actions and positive sentiments from govt’s support. Govt officials and a team of tourism dept need to support hotels by travelling to our units and portray that it is safe to stay at hotels. We need to create our own heroes and a safe new normal now.

‘QUOTE ROOM’

Administration needs to acknowledge that hotels and restaurants are much safer and cannot be kept in the same palette as street vendors. It is easy for us to maintain social distancing and follow all corona virus protocols. Second, we have a lot of in-house guests and restricting us from serving them dinner after 8 pm is not practical. We cannot force everyone to finish their dinner before 8 pm. At least serving meals in rooms should be allowed, especially if we are having weddings guest party residing in hotels

Hospitality industry has been extremely supportive of administration and people at large throughout the fight with covid-19. Initially, since March when lockdown was enforced, we gave our facilities and space for free to administration for 70 days. This would have incurred a bill accounting for more than Rs 10 crore. However, we did it for our country and people

Wedding season is essential for survival of hospitality industry. We were actually hoping and holding on for weddings in December. However, with the announcement of curfew from 8 pm to limitations on weddings, the hope is diminishing. Many weddings have been cancelled. A lot of families have switched over to having a small wedding at home, hence, cancelling or postponing their bookings in hotels. Over 250 weddings were planned till December 14

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