Sherry Bhatia, President of the West Indies Hotel and Restaurant Association, said: “The hospitality industry demands fair play and justice. We are calling on the government to either allow us to continue regular operations with the mandatory SOPs or to shut down permanently instead of keeping us half alive and in a state of misery. Whenever Covid-19 cases increase, the hotel industry is targeted and harassed. We work in the safest environment and follow all mandatory conformities. Most of the companies have rising debts and are threatened with bankruptcy and millions of job losses. Fearful of losing jobs like last year, many workers have started moving back into their homes. After last year’s lockdown, the hospitality industry is in turmoil and simply unable to sustain any further losses. Through our silent protests today, we are calling on the government to allow us to go back to work, and if not, the government must take care of our incomes. Industry should be given a complete waiver of all statutory fees and taxes, and operations should not be billed for water and electricity for the duration of the curb. ”
The effects of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry have been extremely disruptive. Of all the core sectors of the economy, the hospitality industry was the first to decline and it will be the last to recover. It has become the largest pandemic causality in the country.
Pradeep Shetty, Joint Secretary of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, said: “The industry has lost all of its business after the first lockdown went into effect and the zero business scenario persisted for 7-10 months over the past year. However, our rental obligations, wages, debt servicing and statutory payments persisted throughout the period. To date, 30 percent of the country’s hotels and restaurants have closed permanently. Over 20 percent of the hotels and restaurants have not yet fully opened after the closure. The remaining 50 percent are still lossy and the income is below 50 percent of the pre-Covid level. Our businesses are under immense financial strain and the recent Break the Chain order represents another complete lockdown. We assure the government that the industry is committed to complying with all health and safety protocols and that we are relentlessly supporting the various efforts to combat the pandemic. We humbly urge the government to look into this genuine plea from the hospitality industry and expand support in our struggle for survival. “