-B Swaminathan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kozhikode: Kozhikode (Calicut) which holds the name of the food capital of Kerala is one of the major cities which also contribute to the state economy through food. The city which has various kinds of hotels from traditional to modern today bleeds because of the COVID pandemic.
U.S.Santhosh Kumar, District Secretary in the Kozhikode unit of Kerala hotel and Restaurant Association calls this the biggest nightmare in the last half-century. According to him, food is the part-and-parcel of the tradition and legacy of Kozhikode. “Kozhikode is one place which has plenty of small villages and there are many smaller units which are dependent purely on 4 member team.”, he says and added that there are nearly 4 Thousand restaurants in the district and out of them only 40% are functioning while most of the others had downed their shutters citing COVID as a reason.
DNA of Kozhikode’s food business:
Food sale happens in the city on four different aspects. 1. Local guests who want to try food outside their home 2. Highway business is of those who pass by the region and prefer to have a pit-stop in Kozhikode for food, 3. Tourists who come from Kerala or India or even outside India to explore the region and trying out new cuisines comes hand-in-hand 4. Health Tourism Business is the one where a sizable business comes from the patients visiting the hospitals in Kozhikode from neighbouring districts. Another interesting fact of the hotels in Kozhikode is that despite their functioning costs are higher, hoteliers here charge a minimal amount for the eaters ending up having thin margins.
How Pandemic killed the business:
Santhosh says many hoteliers are traditional business owners who had learnt the art and commerce of the hotel industry only through their fathers and grandfathers. This pandemic and stringent rule are forcing people to move out of the business. “Hoteliers moving out of this business is not good a revenue loss for the state government but a challenge for Kozhikode’s legacy. Generations after generations what has not changed despite the globalization is the Kozhikode’s hospitality”, he says. According to him the region as a whole is known for the humbleness and hospitality of people who are the same despite reaching new heights.
Some of the stringent rules had added fuel to the fire. “For example, the closing time of the business is at 7 pm. Imagine a business traveller finishes his meeting by that time and is on the lookout for dinner will have to sleep with hunger.”, he says further adding that the preparation and post-cleaning works of hoteliers will take more than 2 hours and that also impacts in the business works of the hoteliers.
Requests to the government:
According to Santhosh, the Government should support hoteliers in the following ways.
- Increase the functioning time of the restaurants till 9pm
- Let highway restaurants function with following COVID protocols. As many depend on hotels for refreshing against their nature calls
- With a hotel’s functioning is limited, they face challenges in cleaning the place and moving their waste. The government should understand the practical difficulties and give them time to clean. These days, with good awareness, more than government, the hoteliers are responsible for the eater’s health.
- When grocery shops and other shops are given priorities, why not hoteliers. We need to procure food from a grocery shop for our next day whiles those who work there needs to come to our place for dinner. Thus the government should find a ‘practical’ solution.
Suggestions to fellow hoteliers:
The Kerala Hotel Restaurant Association is constantly in touch with the association members to keep providing insights on how to survive in this pandemic. Santhosh requests his fellow comrades to stay vigil in this tough situation. He says that hoteliers should use the staff in a smart way and reduce the production cost with limited menu options.
“I understand every day is a game of life-and-death. However, hoteliers here survived things like Nippah virus, flood and other challenges. We are sure, we would overcome this too and we support the government in all possible ways to stop the spread of COVID. ”, he concludes.
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