KOCHI: With prices of vegetables mainly onions, scaling new highs, the hoteliers in the state have threatened to down the shutters saying operational costs in small and medium hotels have risen as high as 70 per cent per day due to the high input costs.
The Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association (KHRA), the umbrella body of hotels in the state, said the price of food products cannot be increased as the ongoing economic slowdown has already impacted people's spending habits, especially outdoor dining.
Worsening the situation, the prices of grains, cereals and all essential goods have also skyrocketed with no preventive measures adopted by the governments in centre and state yet, said J Jayapal, general secretary of KHRA.
He said it has become very hard for hotels and restaurants to function with the price of raw materials touching new heights daily.
"Onion is one of the most essential parts of all dishes prepared in hotels. We all know that natural calamities were the reason behind the soaring price of onions now. However, what we condemn is the steps initiated by the governments. In spite of being aware that the price will go up, no steps were taken to tackle the crisis. Similarly, no steps were taken to prevent hoarding of onions," he told TNIE.
KHRA President Moideenkutty Haji vegetarian hotels are the most affected due to the rising prices.
"Can we run a hotel by buying vegetables and required products at this price? We cannot increase food prices accordingly. Even there is a limit in charging high prices from the customers. We have decided to start protest activities including shutting down all hotels if the governments fail to control the situation," he said.
Onion prices are ruling at about Rs 150/kg in the state, up from around Rs 35-40/kg a few months back. There has been a similar increase in the prices of other vegetables as well.
KHRA state committee held a meeting on Friday and decided to conduct protest demonstrations in all the districts in the state. The state committee meeting to be held at Ernakulam on December 17 and will decide on a further course of action, including shutting down of services.
"If the situation continues further then we will be forced to conduct protest activities including closing the hotels and restaurants for an indefinite period," Moideenkutty Haji said.
Jayapal said a medium-level hotel requires at least 30 kg of onions daily. "The onion price alone has put at least Rs 10,000 additional cost on hotels now. The cost of other vegetables has also gone up," he said.
Vegetarian hotels are the hardest hit as the price of blackgram used for making idly and dosa is touching new heights daily.
"The price of black gram is Rs 140 per kg now compared to Rs 80 a few months ago. Except for a few establishments, most of the hotels are running on loss now. Already, the economic crisis has hit the hotel industry badly," he said.