Footfall of customers at pubs, bars and restaurants in Gurgaon has reduced and there is a growing sense of uncertainty among those working in the sector.
Following the Supreme Court ban on the sale of liquor in Haryana, about 50,000 employees working in the hospitality sector are likely to lose their jobs. As 115 pubs, bars, restaurants and five-star hotels in Gurgaon have downed shutters temporarily following the ban, there is a rising sense of uncertainty among those working and those with investments in the sector.
Baljit Singh Rathi, director of Nainkasi brewery in Sector 30, Gurgaon, says, “The order may lead to shutdown of many establishments in the sector. Moreover, as the number of customers go down, it will be a huge financial burden for us owners to pay our employees.”
Rathi’s fears are well-founded as the daily footfall of 80,000 to 90,000 people in Gurgaon has already reduced to a mere 1,000 according to an estimate. The residents of the National Capital Region who used to visit Cyber Hub, Sector 29 and Sohna Road are now looking at options in Delhi and Noida.
Prerna Singh a resident of Sarojini Nagar, Delhi, says, "We used to visit Cyber Hub on weekends but after the closure, we decided go to some place in Delhi. There’s no point travelling so far and, that too, for limited options."
The hotel fraternity met at The Oberoi on April 2 to discuss the judgement. Members of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), The Federation of Hotel and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI) and Hotel and Restaurant Association of Haryana (HRAH) attended the meeting.
While the liquor vendors may still be in a position to relocate, luxury hotels will find it difficult to operate in the absence of a license to serve and store liquor. Manbeer Choudhary, president of HRAH, says, “Without liquor for marriages and parties, the business in Gurgaon will be hit tremendously. Moreover, those with heavy financial investments in the industry will be directly hit by the judgement.”
Kapil Chopra, president of The Oberoi Group, says, “The ban will affect foreign guests who visit the city on business.”
The sale at restaurants, pubs and bars have also plummeted. Those establishments who used to make Rs 4 lakh per day are now making Rs 5,000. Vendors such as meat suppliers and grocery suppliers would be affected. The excise department is also set to lose Rs 70.8 crore annually.
HC Dahiya, deputy excise and taxation commissioner (West), told City Spidey, “Many of bar and pub owners are claiming that they do not come within the 500 m range. So we have asked them to give a written undertaking stating the same. We will involve other agencies, including the highway authorities and the town planning department, who will measure the distance of such establishments from the outer edge of the service lane of the highways.”
Meanwhile, various associations in the liquor industry are expecting support from government agencies. The hotel fraternity met the tourism minister and the excise minister on April 3 and have been assured of some relief.
“We are hopeful. The government will come up with some changes for sure. The revenue earned from the hotel industry is in thousands of crores,” says Rahul Singh, head of Haryana chapter, NRAI.