Visakhapatnam: COVID-19 has spelled doom for the service industry in Vizag. Hotel and restaurant owners have put up notices on social media for selling their business establishments in a bid to repay loans.

The industry was booming after the steel plant was established. It reached its zenith in the mid-eighties. The industry was expecting to make it bigger after the YSRC government announced to make Vizag executive capital of Andhra Pradesh.

"The virus dashed all our hopes. Most of us are now planning to switch over to other businesses for sustenance," said Visakhapatnam Hotel Owners Welfare Association president K Satyanarayana.

He said with the third wave looming large, the owners would have to shut their business for some more time.

He said many entrepreneurs unable to manage the loan liabilities have decided to sell their properties at throwaway prices. The sale notifications are being circulated among the hotel and restaurant entrepreneurs through social media.

``Not a single sale has been reported so far. We are waiting to see who are ready to buy our establishments,'' Satyanarayana said.

He said there were around 600 stand-alone restaurants, food parlors, and mobile food vans spread across from Gajuwaka to Madhurawada. Only those selling takeaway parcels were surviving and others have shut down their shops.

Among the 1,000 odd hotels and lodges, the present occupancy is just 10 percent in Vizag city. With such low occupancy, it would be difficult to run the show, he said.

Satyanaryana said he owned a hotel in the heart of the city. He said of 51 rooms, only 10 were occupied on Thursday.

"During the shutdown, I paid power bill of Rs 1.5 lakh per month," Satyanarayana said.

Another hotelier said people stopped eating outside on the advice of medical professionals and conducting all the meetings online and stopped visiting Vizag for business meets.

He said the pandemic also caused huge unemployment in the region. It was employing over 30,000 people and most of them have gone to their native villages. They are refusing to come back since they see no hope of revival.

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