Hospitality Halt: Airfare Hike Likely To Impact Business Post COVID-19, Odisha Hotel Owners Wary

The hospitality sector in Odisha, like elsewhere in the world, has received a major blow owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, forcing hoteliers, restaurant owners and tour & travel professionals to search for ways to keep their businesses afloat. In this series, Odisha Bytes takes a look at the state-of-affairs and the road ahead.

Bhubaneswar: The outbreak of coronavirus and the countrywide lockdown that followed has dealt a severe blow to the hospitality industry. According to rough estimates, the industry is likely to incur a loss of Rs 5-trillion over the next year.

The revival of the industry depends on the travel sector, whose opening up depends on the COVID-19 situation in the country. A surge in airfare post the pandemic is likely to influence the travel plans of tourists who are likley to settle for shorter holidays. This is worrying hotel owners in Odisha.

“First, people won’t be travelling freely post the pandemic. To add to this, if the airlines decide to increase their ticket prices, the tourists will shorten their stay at hotels due to unaffordability,” said General Manager, Hotel Marrion, Sameer Ali.

As of now, hotel owners in the state are doing a lot of brainstorming, looking at many business models and marketing plans to give a proper hygienic experience to the guests and restore their confidence post the pandemic.

“It’s a very confusing time for everyone. Yes, the hotel industry is heavily dependent on airways and railways but the increase in fares will not impact it for long. People will never stop travelling and going on holidays. I am sure the government will come up with a plan to boost the industry,” said Executive Director, Mayfair Hotels & Resorts Ltd, Souvagya Mohapatra.

Since the ban on air and rail travel is likely to sustain for long, hotels are planning innovative methods to attract tourists from nearby states who can travel by road post the lockdown and visit the temple town of Puri.

“Mayfair is planning a ‘Drive-in package’ for tourists. We will arrange a car with a driver and offer tourists good facilities at our hotels and drive them back to their homes after their stay. There are many such plans in the pipeline. We will make an announcement after getting some clarity on the lockdown,” Mohapatra added.

However, the hotels are skeptical about increasing their room rents.

“There is no point in hiking the rates and have no occupancy. The rates will automatically go higher if the occupancy increases. At present, there are no such plans,” Ali said.

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) has also written to the state and Central governments demanding a stimulus package for the distressed industry.

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