Ahead of a long Diwali weekend, hotels and resorts across Maharashtra have geared up to host Mumbaikars. Tour operators and employees of the hospitality industry are eyeing the festive weekend with the hope of being able to recuperate for the losses incurred amid the pandemic outbreak this year.
The extended weekend between November 13 and 15 is the longest weekend that has fallen following restrictions on lockdown were imposed across the state.
"Hotels in the state have made elaborative arrangements keeping all the safety precautions in mind. We are hopeful that this season we will be able to host vacationers" stated Sherry Bhatia, President of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI).
Major hotels and hospitality chains across the state have adhered to come up with innovative procedures to ensure there is minimal physical contact between the patrons and distancing norms are followed inside the hotels.
"We have strategically placed mannequins across the restaurant. At our restaurants, ordering food is implemented through the QR code process to minimize contact and in terms of payments we have also adapted the digital method of transaction" stated Param Kannampilly, chairman and managing director - The Fern hotels.
Some of the resorts have also stated that they won't be taking full reservations to maintain safety protocols.
"We have started experiencing high traffic on our websites from last week. So we have decided to take only 50 per cent of bookings this year for safety purposes. Generally, during long weekends our hotels remain fully occupied" stated Ramesh Sitaram, manager of two private resorts in Lonavla and Mahabaleshwar.
Tour operators informed that during the Diwali season, demand for online hotel reservation was up by at least 50 per cent.
"This time there are restrictions in Diwali celebrations and the number of COVID cases are also declining which is why people are preferring to go out on mini-vacations" stated an official of an online travel aggregator firm.
"Bookings for destinations like Goa, Pondicherry, Gujarat, and Bangalore have increased drastically in the last one month. Ahead of the Diwali season, tickets for the Mumbai to Goa buses were in high demand" said Dinesh Parmar, an Andheri-based tour operator.