The hotel industry in Gurugram has thrived on its proximity to the Delhi airport as also its status as the preferred destination of the corporate world that enriched its clientele base. But the lockdown saw the suspension of both international and domestic air travel, besides train journeys, leading to the cancellation of hotel bookings and disruption of the business of travel agents and tour operators. The lockdown has made hotels face the prospect of being closed or run in a limited manner. They are now finding it difficult to pay salaries to the staff, besides taxes and the cost of maintenance.
The closure is now forcing the property owners to seek a change of business by letting out the premises as paying guest accommodation, besides offering banquet halls, swimming pools and clubs to meet expenses. As many as 40 hoteliers have now sought to approach the state government for nod to change of land use (CLU) that will help them sell off their property to pay loans. As they plan to petition the Haryana CM for redress of grievances, the fear is that their number might grow.
It’s time for remedial steps. Already, announcements have been made about the resumption of domestic flights and train journeys. But so long as there is no complete resumption both on the domestic as well as international routes and the movement of people gets unhindered, there is little chance of normalcy returning. There are restrictions with no onboard meals allowed for now, while restaurants have been asked to offer only home delivery. Many of the hotels were used to put up Indian nationals evacuated from other countries for their quarantine period and they will have to reorient themselves as and when business gets back to normal. Running a hotel needs both capital and manpower, that too skilled. The hospitality sector too will need a stimulus. A change of business may or may not turn out to be viable. It’s better to first try the optimum utilisation of what is already there.
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