KATHMANDU, July 4: When Gaurav Agrawal, managing director of the Kathmandu Marriott Hotel, sits down to calculate the hotel’s business in the last few months, the numbers he sees are quite ‘depressing’.
“We were planning to “go big” in 2020, but the hotel has already lost Rs 150 million after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 24,” Agrawal, told Republica.
The Naxal-based Marriott chain hotel was expecting a good business in 2020. Hotel bookings were more than 80 percent for the month of March. “As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the entire globe, and the government imposed a nationwide lockdown, the bookings were swiftly cancelled,” Agrawal said, adding that hotel business is on the “verge of collapse” as a huge amount has already been lost, and there are no signs of recovery in near future.
Launched in 2019, Kathmandu Marriott is one of the biggest hotels in Nepal with 214 rooms, including 21 suite rooms of international standard.
Prior to the lockdown, the hotel was recording a daily transaction of $50,000. Now the business is down by 97 percent, and the hotel is hardly recording $50,000 a month.
“We are not looking for business; we just want to survive the pandemic. If there is no support from the government, the investment in the hotel will go in vain,” according to Agrawal.
A total of $60 million has been invested in the hotel.
Currently, there are eight stranded tourists staying at the hotel. “We wanted to close the business after the lockdown but we can’t tell our guests to leave in difficult times. The business is opened for a social cause as the hotel wants to set an example that the hospitality business in Nepal is one of the best in the world,” said Agrawal.
Agrawal doesn’t see tourism businesses picking up for at least another three years. “The economies are collapsing. People don’t have money to travel. It is obvious that the tourism business is collapsing, and needs government support to stay alive,” said Agrawal, adding that there has been no relief from the government to keep hotel businesses alive.
When asked if any of the government’s relief on interest rate has helped the hotel, Agrawal laughed and said, “The government has provided two percent relief on interest rate, but not lowering from the base rate. Many businesses have acquired loans at base rate, so the government’s relief is not helping. Businesses are not benefitting from the government’s scheme,” Agrawal questioned.
He thinks tourism businesses need to attract locals to survive this difficult time. As a measure to attract the locals, the hotel is planning to launch a special campaign in July to attract locals. The offer comes at Rs 7,777, that includes breakfast and a room with double occupancy for a couple.
“The objective of the campaign is to attract locals to experience international-standard hospitality in Nepal. The offer helps those who can’t afford to travel overseas,” said Agrawal.
While there are no signs of tourism sector revival, Agrawal predicts that the hotel will lose Rs 500 million in a year as there has been no relief from the government.