Night curfew: New Year parties, travel plans fizzle out

Miffed hotels and restaurants stare at huge losses on account of advance planning for events that they now have to shelve, report Shally Seth Mohile and Aneesh Phadnis.

The introduction of a 15-day night curfew in Mumbai from 11 pm to 6 am and a seven-day institutional quarantine for international travellers from Europe, West Asia, and South Africa have robbed the city of its Christmas cheer and put a dampener on New Year’s celebrations.

The guidelines, announced on Monday evening to prevent the entry of a new strain of the coronavirus into the country, have left hoteliers and holidaymakers bristling.

“There will be a massive impact on the hospitality sector, given the planning for New Year parties starts six months in advance. These are the biggest money-spinners for the year,” said Kamlesh Barot, director at Barot Hotels and Vie Hospitality.

Moreover, payments made to event managers and disc jockeys are non-refundable, he added.

Close to 40 per cent of restaurants had remained shut because of a dispute with their tenants over rent during the nationwide lockdown.

Late-night events on Christmas and New Year’s Eve are an opportunity for hotels to generate revenue and make good on the losses of the past month.

The night curfew has now thrown a spanner in the works, added Barot.

“This is how we are rewarded after offering everything we could — rooms, food, and service — over the past eight months,” he said.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction when the number of cases in Maharashtra is in check,” said Gurbax Singh Kohli, spokesperson, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India.

The quarantine measures are hurting the travel industry as well.

With most countries restricting leisure travel, Dubai and Maldives have seen surge in demand with fewer quarantine restrictions and cheaper airfares.

Both have been welcoming tourists since July.

Many had planned to travel to Dubai during their Christmas break.

“We had several bookings to Dubai for Christmas and these are now being cancelled. Also, several of our customers from Europe and West Asia have deferred their visit to Mumbai. We expect the airlines to offer refunds and waivers to the affected passengers,” said Tina Kanuga, director, Bathija Travels.

Some vacationers have cut short their holiday in Dubai and returned before the new rules kick in.

“Eight of our customers were supposed to return on Friday. They arrived instead on Monday to avoid the mandatory institutional quarantine. They purchased new flight tickets and cut short their holiday after spending just three days in Dubai. We are awaiting clarity from the hotel on refunds,” said Rajat Bagaria, joint secretary of Travel Agents Federation of India.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/ Rediff.com

 

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