With major temples shut on weekends, hospitality sector sees slump in business

The fresh curbs on opening major temples have hit the hospitality industry hard in Tiruchi.

The sector, one of the highest direct and indirect employment providers, is facing severe crisis since the imposition of nationwide lockdown in the wake of spread of COVID-19 cases. Hotels and restaurants had to close down their operations again in May due to rise in fresh cases. They were allowed to open gradually after about two months with restrictions. Though most of the hotels have reopened for guests, there are restaurants, which are yet to reopen due to stringent restrictions and lack of customer support.

According to sources, most of the hotels and restaurants have been running with just one third of regular staff members. More than 60% of the workers and managerial staff members of the hospitality industry were still jobless as the hoteliers were reluctant to employ them due to poor business prospects.

The fresh restrictions on opening leading temples have brought fresh troubles for them. According to a notification, temples such as Sri Ranganathawamy Temple in Srirangam, Sri Mariamman Temple in Samayapuram and Sri Thayumavaswamy Temple in Tiruchi will be closed for public darshan on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays till further orders. Hoteliers say this has brought down the number of footfalls and it has had its impact on hotel bookings and business in restaurants.

Most restaurants in Central Bus Stand and Srirangam reported sharp slump in business on Sundays, a usually busy day.

“We have not even done 30% of our usual business. People prefer to visit temples and tourist destinations on holidays. They are our customers. The closure of temples has impacted the business hard,” said an employee of a hotel at the Central Bus Stand in Tiruchi.

“It has become hard to predict the number of customers and this has resulted in huge wastage of food,” said an employee of a hotel in Srirangam.

The hoteliers are of the view that instead of closing the temples, the devotees can be allowed to visit the temples in limited number as per the previous arrangements done in 2020 after allowing the temples to reopen.

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