Restaurants’ biz rocked by tourism slowdown
A number of restaurants and cafes, especially in the coastal belt, are having a very tough time because of the slowdown in tourism. Drop in the number of foreign tourists has made it difficult to fill restaurants making people wonder how their business will survive while some are changing menus in off-season to attract Indian tourists.
04th February 2019, 03:24 Hrs
A trip to Goa is surely a gastronomic delight for tourists because no other tourism destination in India offers the range and diversity of restaurants as Goa offers. The flip side is the percentage of restaurants depending on tourists is significantly higher here than most parts of the country. And, it is this facet of the business, which has come to haunt several restaurateurs because the number of foreign tourists is significantly lesser this season compared to earlier. Some restaurant owners even said that the slowdown is so severe that their survival will become difficult if the trend continues.
A lot of restaurants in the beach-belt have menus designed for European tourists, as they offer red meat options, steaks, soups, pastas and salads. European tourists were visiting these places for decades giving them no reason to complain so far. But this season the number of European tourists, particularly British, has dropped raising a question mark at the business model of such restaurants.
Alka D’Souza, who runs a very popular restaurant in Calangute called ‘Foxes Fiesta’, said, “Our business is 50% down in this season compared to earlier seasons. The number of English tourists isn’t the same. I find it tough to get people to sit in the restaurant. I don’t think going forward this season will get better. Post demonetization, European tourists just didn’t want to come to Goa, as their experience was very bad.”
It’s true that demonetization continues to affect the economy in general and tourism in particular. The troubles that foreign tourists endured two years ago due to demonetization weigh on their minds and they end up choosing another destination than Goa.
Chef Soumyen from Chef Soumyen’s Kitchen in Calangute said, “My business is 30 to 35% down compared to earlier. Having said that, I have reconstructed my restaurant and this is my first season after that. My business is alright considering that it is the first season after I redid my property. Earlier, my property was old and its infrastructure was crumbling. Before, I used to open my restaurant from mid-October to mid-April because my infrastructure didn’t allow me to keep it open for 12 months.”
He continued, “But now, with a refurbished property, I can keep my restaurant open for 12 months. Since the focus is on foreign tourists in season time, I will keep European menu (steaks etc.) till April. From May, I will change menu (daal, roti and etc.) so that I can attract more Indian clientele.”
Chef Soumyen is doing the right thing by changing his menu from May to suit the tastes of Indian tourists. Perhaps, it is time for other restaurant owners to change their strategy and look at their menus as well.
Michael Carrasco, president, All Goa Bars and Restaurants Owners Association said, “Restaurants are doing lesser business because fewer tourists are coming to Goa than earlier. The spending capacity of locals has also been badly impacted due to shutdown of mining, which has had a cascading impact on the whole economy.”
The economy in many parts of the State has been badly impacted due to mining shutdown. The spending capacity of a lot of people has come down because they directly depended upon mining. Besides, it has also had a ripple effect on the other sectors. At a time when existing restaurants are finding it tough to do business, new restaurants are also opening in the State. Unless new entrants offer something really different to food-lovers, their survival will be difficult.
Hanzel Vaz, partner, Vaz Enterprises (major distributor of alcohol in South Goa), had an interesting perspective. He said, “The fact is that restaurants offer expensive food in Goa compared to other parts of India. Most restaurants don’t offer anything different. You go to a shack and or to an average restaurant and they all offer the same menu. There are some restaurants, which have made a genuine effort to offer something new and refreshing and they have done well.”
He continued, “We supply liquor to restaurants and shacks all over South Goa. This season has been really bad because we aren’t seeing numbers. Earlier, 15-20 shacks used to buy liquor from us. This season, the number has dropped to 4-5 shacks and even these shacks aren’t picking up volumes. The slowdown in restaurant business is across the board. There is an oversupply of restaurants and people are spending less.”
In the midst of slowdown, some restaurants, which are focusing on locals and not tourists, have done well. Such places are not in the beach belt and they have built a loyal clientele among Goans.
Mayur Dhond, owner, Edward’s Yard in Goa-Velha, said, “I am not in the beach belt and my customers are locals, which is the reason that I am not affected by tourism slowdown at all. In fact, we have seen 10 to 15% growth in our business in December & January compared to previous year because more locals are coming to our place.”
Slowdown takes wind out of restaurants’ sail
A number of restaurants in beach areas have reported drop in their business due to fewer foreign tourists’ arrivals this season.
Owners of restaurants said that their survival would be threatened if the slowdown continues.
Some restaurants have also decided to offer Indian food like daal and roti in off-season to cater to the tastes of domestic tourists.
Mining shutdown has had a cascading impact on economy, which has badly affected spending capacity of a lot of people, making it further difficult for restaurants.
Few restaurants, which focus entirely on locals and not on tourists, have done well amidst the slowdown.
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