The Central Government directed the reopening of malls, restaurants, and religious places from 8 June, under Unlock 1.0. After sustaining a nationwide lockdown for over two months, since 25 March, shopping malls, restaurants and hotels in Vizag opened their doors for the first time to the public, on Monday, in line with the new directives. However, the public places evoked lukewarm response from the citizens as they recorded poor footfall on the first day.
Speaking to Yo! Vizag about the current scenario in the city, Pavan Kartheek MV, Vice-President Hotel & Restaurant Association of Andhra Pradesh (HRAAP), said, “We checked with all the hotels in the city regarding the footfall. The response was very low as per the information we received. I believe that most of the individuals are unwilling to visit hotels and restaurants due to fear of infection. Added to that, the heavy rainfall witnessed yesterday could have dampened the spirits further, especially for restaurants.” Talking about the online booking, he informed that it hasn’t picked up either. “Moreover, most of the travellers arriving in the city are stranded individuals. Hence, the occupancy rate of hotels in Vizag is still very low,” Mr Pavan added.
Sharing that the hotels which in containment zones are shut as of now, Mr Pavan said, “No commercial operations are allowed to be carried out in these hotels as per the directives of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC). For instance, Dolphin Hotel, Green Park Hotel, Keys Hotel by Lemon Tree, and others have been shut ever since the areas have been declared as containment zones.” He added that after a week, the corporation might review the status of these zones to take further action.
When asked about the measures that are being taken by the hotels, he mentioned that every hotel is following the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) recommended by the Indian Government. Shedding light on how restaurants in the city are ensuring social distancing, Mr Pavan said, “The seating of the restaurants has been reduced to 50%. Customers will be allowed inside only after they sanitise their hands and undergo thermal screening at the entrance. Despite taking all the measures, we are conscious of not putting extra burden on the customers and hike the prices. Hence most of the outlets are limiting their menu too.
Sharing his thoughts about the future of the hospitality sector of Vizag, Mr Pavan said that this financial year might well end up being troublesome for the hoteliers. “It could take a minimum of 3-4 months, for the basic level occupancy to resume. While we are stringent on mitigating the loss, on behalf of the Hotels and Restaurants Association, we are requesting the Andhra Pradesh State Government to encourage the tourism industry. We hope that normalcy restores soon in Vizag.”