15:12 GMT18 January 2021
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    The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has affected almost every industry this year but aviation, entertainment, and the hospitality industry have probably taken the worst hits.

    India is no exception: the hospitality sector, one of the worst-hit, is facing a revenue loss of $122 billion this year because of the pandemic that has practically shut down the country and the entire world, according to leading news website The Week. 

    But as the market gradually returns to normal and people begin to work regular schedules, the hotel industry is seeing a little respite. 

    Hotel bookings in India surged from 20 percent in the week ending August 9 to 47 percent because of demand for domestic travel, as per booking trends observed by RateGain, a travel and hospitality technology provider that works with 250,000 hotels globally.

    This revival comes despite the absence of corporate, group, and foreign bookings in December versus the 28,000 average bookings per week registered last December.

    According to Gaurav Mehta, General Manager of Radisson, hotels are expecting only 50-60 percent of bookings during the festive period this year. Mehta explains that the situation with hotels is still quite unpredictable because guests are being cautious due to the coronavirus.

    Mehta continues by saying that the new strain of coronavirus, recently discovered in the UK, has made people take even more precautions. 

    Mehta also reveals that "apart from general instruction - social distancing, cleaning surfaces every 30 minutes, wearing masks and gloves, we also conducted comprehensive hygiene and prevention training programmes for team members".

    Hoping that Christmas and the New Year will help restaurants revive their business too, Vishal Anand, Director, Moonshine Food Ventures says, "we are really looking forward to Christmas and New Year's celebrations. This year has been tough for many and with the year end, we are expecting people to come out and celebrate".

    Vishal Anand notes that his restaurant is almost completely booked for New Year's Eve and Christmas. 

    Mumbai to Celebrate New Year on Thailand Time 

    In the lead-up to the festivities, many Indian states, including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Manipur, Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh have announced a partial lockdown in the evening to curb the spread of the virus and avoid public gatherings.

    Creative Mumbai hoteliers, however, have come up with an idea of how to attract customers, announcing that the city will celebrate New Year's at 10:30 p.m. on 31 December which will coincide with Thailand's time of stepping into 2021, the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) said. 

    Even though India ranked fifth in hotel recoveries worldwide in the second week of December, as per RateGain, the hospitality sector is still fighting to survive as the industry is seeing a 70 percent slide of its revenue compared to 2019, Gaurav Mehta says. 

    "We can't predict anything for 2021. Things will be normal only once the vaccine is available. Restaurants are still operating with 50 percent occupancy, no question of making a profit or things getting back on track. We are optimistic about everything", HRAWI President Sherry Bhatia says.

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