There was a time when hotels and food joints would be open till the wee hours of the morning providing grub to hungry night owls in the city. However, today most hoteliers and eateries shut shop at 1.30 am, following the rules, much to their dislike. And keeping that in mind the hotel association members met with the union tourism minister in New Delhi to demand for an extension and also for uniformity in timings of food and beverage (F&B) services in hotels across the country.
At present, hotels in different states have differing timings in regards to closing shop. For instance, in Kerala restaurants and hotels can provide food till 11 pm whereas in Mumbai and Pune, F&B services are open till 1.30 am.
Confirming the same, Kamlesh Barot, president of Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), said, “We have suggested that all hotels across the country should have the same closing time of 3 am, which is practised worldwide. This is imperative in view of the influx of international tourists at airports during odd hours of the night. Presently, most tourists have to go hungry, as the rule states to shut shop by 1.30 am. This really goes against the tourism motto of ‘Atithi Devo bhava’.”
Another hotelier complained that the rule asking all hoteliers to shut at 1.30 am was absurd. “The Mumbai police have demanded that all eateries around the domestic airport be shut by 1.30 am. They say that such places tend to become a meeting spot for anti-social elements. How ridiculous is that excuse. Why can’t the police be more vigilant? The ideal time to close should be 3 am. We need eateries that work till late.”
And what about 24-hour coffee shops? Barot added that officials argued that the city did provide tourists with options in the form of 24-hour coffee shops at hotels and airports. However, he countered saying that these places only offered sandwiches and tea/coffee to patrons. “We can’t expect tourists to sleep on empty stomachs. Hence, we have asked for an extension.” The tourism director for the Western region also voiced the same concerns and said that a 3 am deadline was imperative.
According to sources, the deadline was not the only topic of discussion. Fed up of the authorities using archaic laws to shut them or fine them, establishment owners also asked the government to change the laws before the industry died out. “Constant raids being carried out by the officials from the Social Service Branch has affected business and also created worries for the tourism industry. Outdated laws like requiring a drinking permit has created fears in the minds of people and tourists,” said another hotelier.