The Vande Bharat Mission, the government’s repatriation scheme to bring home the stranded Indians, has come as a welcome relief for the hospitality industry which has been counting its losses amid a prolonged shutdown.
Hotels across all categories from budget and mid-segment to luxury five stars have opened their doors to house the travellers at a deep discount. Hotels in all the five metros including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata, are serving as isolation facilities for the travellers before they head home after the 14 day quarantine. Passengers who are asymptomatic on arrival can choose to stay in any of these hotels. The costs have to be borne by them.
In Mumbai for instance, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases, more than a dozen hotels have been identified by the local authorities. They are offering over 824 rooms at rates much lower than their normal rates for the travelers, as per a Maharashtra government document. Even premium five star hotels are not shying away from offering rooms at a throw-away price.
Take South Mumbai-based Taj Mahal Palace, the marquee property of Indian Hotels. It is offering 350 rooms at Rs5000 per night (single occupancy) each against an average room rate of Rs 16, 000 to Rs 17, 000. “We continue to extend support to the government for all requirements, including repatriation,” said an IHCL spokesperson.
International hotel chains too have opened their doors for the guests. All of Marriott International’s brands in India have offered to house the guests returning home. “All our brands have bid for guests arriving into India said a company spokesperson adding that rates are based on the directives of each State Government. They are inclusive of stay, three meals and all applicable taxes, the spokesperson added.
French hospitality major, Accor’s brands including Swissotel, Grand Mercure, Ibis and Novotel has been supporting the government’s institutional quarantine policy in different cities and have committed 1450 rooms across the brands in India in various metros for the Vande Bharat Mission, company’s spokesperson said.
Like Mumbai and other metros, almost 7,000 rooms in 80 hotels across Bengaluru have been ear-marked as quarantine zones for Indians flying in from abroad. This includes ten 5-star hotels, twelve 3-star hotels and over fifty 50 budget hotels. The Taj group of hotels has offered 800 rooms. Other hotels that are included in the list include Treebo, Oyo, and Fabhotels.
The cost of room rent and three meals at a 5-star hotel per day is Rs 4,100 for an individual and Rs 5,900 per couple in the city. Accommodation in a 3-star hotel with three meals will cost individuals Rs 1,850 and couples Rs 2,450 per day. Budget hotel rooms and meals are priced at Rs 1,200 per day for individuals as well as couples. Air India special flight carrying 121 Indian passengers returned to Hyderabad from Newark (USA) on May 16. India began phased repatriation of its citizens stranded abroad from May 7 under Vande Bharat Mission.
If nothing else, this will allow the hotels to at least meet their operating costs, said analysts. With no end to the lockdown amid the rising Covid-19 cases, hotels in India are staring at huge losses as their restaurants, rooms and other facilities remain shut due to the pandemic. On Sunday, the government announced it will extend the lockdown till 31 May to curb the spread of the pandemic.
More than 13,000 people have already returned on various flights under Mission Vande Bharat so far. Today, 812 citizens have returned on Air India and AirIndia Express flights from Newark, London, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. More flights continue," Hardeep Singh Puri, the Union Civil Aviation Minister wrote on Twitter on Saturday.