The impact of global economic meltdown and a slump of international tourists visiting the country is again being felt by the hospitality industry. This time Hyderabad hotels which had been preparing for the upcoming UN Convention on Biodiversity (CoP 11), with less than 20 days remaining before the meet, have only registered an abysmal booking of 20–25 per cent. This is in contradiction to the fact that 8,000 international delegates were earlier expected to visit the city for the event.
Although the cut-off for all reservations is September 15, hotel managements aren't too hopeful of a surge in business over the next few days. City hotels had initially been asked to reserve 40 per cent of their inventory for the meet by MCI Management (India) Pvt Ltd, the professional conference organisers (PCO), for which they were assured profitable returns. A total of 42 hotels have been roped in to provide accommodation for the delegates at the meet.
But as it turns out, these hotels are far from being swamped with bookings. And it is not just the star hotels located over 10km from the official venue at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre which have failed to attract guests. Even hotels in the vicinity of the official venue have over half their rooms, earmarked for CoP participants, still lying vacant.
That includes HICC-Novotel, the host venue for the event. "The poor rate of room bookings is a cause for concern considering that this is where the international summit is to be held," Jaideep Khanna, general manager (sales & marketing) of HICC-Novotel said in a report by TOI.
He said that the hotel's occupancy was only 25 per cent (of the total 40 per cent) with chances of improvement looking slim. "International travel involves planning in advance. It is highly improbable that people will start their preparations now when only a fortnight remains before the conference is to begin," Khanna added.
Properties like Lemon Tree, located at a distance of roughly 5km from the venue, which had started getting enquiries and reservations from early August, too, have hit a roadblock in room bookings. The management even confessed that, for them, the prospects raised by CoP 11 no longer look as promising as it once did. "The picture painted for us was very rosy. We had thought that the entire 40 per cent (reserved for CoP 11), or at least two-thirds of that, would be taken up. But that does not look like being the case," said Narottam Singh, general manager of the four-star facility in Madhapur.
It thus comes as no surprise that hotels such as Marriott and The Park, given their distance from HICC, are staring at the likelihood of many of their rooms remaining vacant. "Enquires are relatively strong. But we cannot ascertain how much of it will eventually materialize," said Prem Joseph, director (sales & marketing), of Marriott.
With CoP not promising the big bucks, the industry is now worried about a poor show in October. Although occupancy rates at this time of year are usually high owing to the festive season, hoteliers fear that it might not be the case this time around. Reason: the hype around the international biodiversity meet.
"Corporates and tourists planning a trip to the city might put their dates on hold fearing poor availability of rooms in hotels due to CoP. If they do so, then we could run huge losses," said an industry insider. According to sources, the hotels and restaurants association of the state has now asked its members to write to their clients assuring them of sufficient 'room vacancy' in October.