BENGALURU: The Covid-induced lockdown and initial phases of Unlock had a disastrous impact on hotels and restaurants along highways. Curbs on travel and the fear of catching the virus had kept patrons, primarily tourists, away the past few months.
However, now, things are slowly picking up, and footfall is increasing.
While traffic on highways coming to the state has gone down by 50-60 per cent, traffic from Bengaluru to remote areas and villages has increased, observed Akash Rai Kamat, COO, Kamat Upachar Group.
“People are getting bored working from home through the week, so they step out for oneday trips to nearby tourist spots, and stop at hotels along highways. On certain stretches where we have our branches, business has almost returned to normal. We have been seeing travellers going from Bengaluru to Mysuru and Mangaluru, stopping at our outlets,” said Kamat.
However, he has not seen the same rise in footfall at branches along highways leading to Hyderabad, Mumbai, the coastal belt of Karnataka, Belagavi, Ballari, Chitradurga and Shivamogga. The fear of eating out is strong among customers, and many choose to carry food from home on their trips. The mode of transport shifting from public to private has also taken a toll on people stopping at highway joints.
At Shivalli restaurant, which falls on the route from Bengaluru to Channapatna, business has improved after the lockdown was lifted. “Before the pandemic broke out, around 400 vehicles would stop here per day on weekdays, and 600 on weekends.
Now, this number has come down to 200 per day. Our expenditure has increased by 10-15 per cent just to maintain hygiene,” said Girish Kalkur, owner of Shivalli. P C Rao, president, Bruhat Bangalore Hotel Association, said lorry and truck drivers prefer stopping at roadside dhabas rather than hotels and restaurants.