Campaigns by prominent leaders have resulted in better occupancy at hotels that were reeling under the impact of COVID-19
The hotel industry, particularly in tier-II cities, which was staring at a bleak future due to the pandemic, is hopeful of enjoying a better occupancy rate, with the onset of the election season.
While business travelers and wedding guests have already started staying in hotels following lockdown relaxations, electioneering by prominent leaders has brought in more occupancy.
For instance, when Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami toured the southern districts recently, all premium category hotels in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi enjoyed decent occupancy, with party MLAs and officials occupying rooms.
Similarly, the three-day campaign of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi ensured relatively good occupancy of rooms. With electioneering gradually moving to top gear, the arrival of top-level leaders for campaigns is expected to increase this month and hence, the occupancy of the rooms is also expected to go up.
Hotels in other regions, where high-voltage electioneering happened, too, reported a noticeable increase in occupancy.
“Zero occupancy during the lockdown was an agonising experience. After the relaxation, we started receiving guests from Madurai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Now, we have political travellers, which has gradually pushed up our occupancy rate to 60%,” said S.N. Abdul Rahim, corporate front office manager, Hotel Apple Ttree, Tirunelveli, where Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Palaniswami stayed.
“The arrival of leaders and their second-rung cadre is likely to keep our industry healthy in the days to come,” he added.
Another most sought-after hotel of the political class, Regency GRT, is also getting a decent number of guests since the beginning of electioneering.
J. Ambrose, head (operations), Poppys group of Hotels and Resorts, said leaders coming to Madurai for electioneering had started staying there overnight, before proceeding to the southern or central districts for campaigning. “This has come at the right time as it has given us a boost,” he added.
General manager of Sathya Parks and Resorts, Thoothukudi, M. Manigandan, too, echoed this view. “VIPs prefer us for the quality we ensure, while others choose budget hotels in Thoothukudi,” he said.
Tamil Nadu Hoteliers’ Association secretary R. Srinivasan, however, said as far as room reservations were concerned, the break-even had not yet been reached. Probably, in the next fortnight or so, this should be achievable. When nominations are completed, reservations will pick up, he added.
But some hoteliers are averse to the political crowd. “They will always be uncontrollable and we will be helpless in managing them,” said a hotelier, pointing that the COVID-19 situation warranted physical distancing and hand hygiene.
(With inputs from L. Srikrishna, Madurai)