Hotel and Restaurant operators have welcomed state government’s plan to open night life in Mumbai. In an interview with Sanjay Jog, Bharat Malkani, President, Hotel & Restaurant Association (western region) explains how vibrant night life will encourage more people to visit the city and also lead to additional revenue mobilization by the government
Q: What is Hotel & Restaurant Association Western India’s (HRAWI) view on the government’s move to allow eating joints and pubs in non-resident zones open through the night?
A: HRAWI completely endorses the view of the government to open eateries, hotels and pubs through the night. We don’t believe that it should be applicable only for non-residential areas. There are residential places where hotels and restaurants may operate and we need to be careful that this does not cause any inconvenience to the public. It is imperative that certain areas like airports have eateries open 24×7. The number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA)s in the city during the night is pretty high and presently we cannot offer them food or beverages which is an embarrassment to our city. This move most certainly is very welcoming and heart-warming for not just the hotel industry but for the city as a whole.
Q: How the business will benefit?
A: Apart from just benefitting business, this will create a paradigm shift for what it means to have true nightlife in Mumbai for both visitors and locals. When people start spending here, the resultant tax collection goes up for the government. For example, in today’s scenario, when people want to enjoy a night life, they pack their bags and go to Goa or some other place where they can have this liberty. However, imagine the government gives this convenience to Mumbai to have a safe and active night life. There will be no need for these people to travel the distance to have a good time and instead can choose to stay back here. This directly will translate to more revenue collection within the city and as a consequence the government coffers will benefit. We are hoping that the revenues could increase by almost 50% as the time for businesses to operate increases.
ALSO READ: Mumbai nightlife revival plan great, but gaps remain
Q: Will shops, malls, pubs and hotels be able to attract more customers during night?
A: Customers are already there. It’s just that they can’t avail these facilities at this present time. We don’t think we will have to do much to attract them, they will automatically make use of this opportunity, if they wish to do so. Plus, if we see amongst all other cities in India, Mumbai used to be known as the Capital for its nightlife. Late night dining for a city that works 24×7 is a big boon for the working class people. By making this change Mumbai will have the first movers’ advantage in all of India. This will automatically bring tourists here, international as well as domestic. Mumbai has a fascinating eclectic and diverse culture. Addition of a vibrant nightlife will encourage people to visit us. Tourists could feel compelled to stay extra few days in the city because of this. In fact, as per our calculations, each foreign tourists deciding to extend their stay in Mumbai by a day brings in as much as Rs 547 crores extra revenues to the Maharashtra Government by way of current tax provisions.
Q: Is city safe enough for night life move?
A: If this is about the crime in the city then, it has never been driven or has never been a factor based on eating or drinking. As long as the current and future police generations stand strong we feel confident about crime control. When it comes to non-residential areas, we see the crime rate dropping. For example, someone working for a BPO leaves late night in non-residential area, the typical situation is that at these hours the commercial areas are silent dark or dimly lit and devoid of people on the street. Working people are required to pass through deserted streets at late hours. However, open hotels, pubs and bars bring activity and life to these zones. We have a mature thinking population in this city who understand the concept of safety of women which would be an advantage. We feel that if there are criminals or anti-social elements in these areas they may be discouraged to operate.
Q: How this will also lead to increase in tax payment to BMC and government?
A: Sales of Food and beverages attract VAT and Service Tax. So once the revenue goes up, the collection goes up too.
ALSO READ: CM gives nod to nightlife proposal, says Aaditya Thackeray