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Rains disrupt business revival of Uttarakhand, Kerala hotels

Both states put together have about 5,000 branded and unbranded hotels, including Radisson Blu, Lemon Tree, Ginger and Taj Hotels in Uttarakhand's Rudrapur, Pantnagar and Ramnagar

October 20, 2021 / 01:32 PM IST
 
 
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Incessant rains and flash floods in Uttarakhand and Kerala have delivered a body blow to the revival of hotels in the tourism-dependent states, pushing the process back by at least a few months. 

Both states put together have about 5,000 branded and unbranded hotels, including Radisson Blu, Lemon Tree, Ginger and Taj Hotels in Uttarakhand's Rudrapur, Pantnagar and Ramnagar (Jim Corbett National Park) areas.

Kerala's worst affected areas like Kottayam and Idukki districts have many stand-alone properties and some national brands like the Zuri. 

Several hotels that were running at full capacity, especially in Uttarakhand, have been damaged by a cloudburst. A Lemon Tree Premier resort near Jim Corbett National Park was one of the worst-hit with around 200 guests and staff members trapped inside.

“We have worked closely with the local government, police forces and emergency rescue task force to evacuate all our guests in a safe and systematic manner. They have been provided alternative accommodation in the safe zones in and around Ramnagar,” said a spokesperson for Lemon Tree.

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National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out rescue and relief operations in Pantnagar, Rudraprayag and Nainital in Uttarakhand. According to state government data, 46 people have died in the past few days in flash floods.

The industrial area of Pantnagar houses factories of several automobile makers including Bajaj Auto, Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors besides their auto parts suppliers.  

Hotels in the adjoining areas are dependent on corporate clients visiting these factories. On October 19, excessive rainfall forced all the factories in Pantnagar to shut.

“The resort has been temporarily closed to allow for weather conditions to improve, and then to undertake the required property repairs,” the Lemon Tree spokesperson added.

Comeback stalled  

Occupancy and room rates at Kerala hotels were on the rise after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions by the state government in August. Floods and landslide triggered by heavy rain, which killed 27 people in the coastal state over the last few days, has hit the hotel and tourism industry hard.

“Kottayam and Idukki districts are the worst affected districts in Kerala because of the floods. Guests were coming back to hotels after the pandemic-induced restrictions were eased,” GK Prasad, working president of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association, said. “These rains will hurt business. Room rates are still well below 50 percent of 2019 levels. If this situation continues, nobody will be coming for another two weeks."

Kerala is one of the top three holiday destinations in India housing all top international hotel brands. Battered by Covid-19, the state has until recently enforced stringent restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.

In September, the Kerala government allowed bars to reopen while lifting a ban on dine-in at hotels and restaurants but operational at only 50 percent of the capacity.   

“While there are no reports of hotels getting damaged in the floods, people who are dependent on hotel guests for their business, will be affected because there have been cancellations. We are hoping that guests do come back before the start of the peak season,” said a senior executive at a mid-tier hotel company.
Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Oct 20, 2021 01:32 pm

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