Monday, 12 October 2009

Drop in numbers for Diwali switch-on

By Sunil Patel

Restaurants on the golden mile in Leicester reported a significant fall in trade after less than expected numbers of people turned out to celebrate the Diwali switch on.

Around 30,000 people from all backgrounds were in attendance on Belgrave Road in the city on Sunday 4th October to see the lights and firework display.
A 25 percent reduction in visitor numbers from the previous year.

Factors such as the recession, increased competition and a lack of event co-ordination from organisers have been blamed for the shortfall in footfall.

Although Bobby’s Restaurant, Belgrave Road saw a 20% per cent rise in normal Sunday customer levels but there was a significant drop in trade compared to customer numbers for the same day last year.

Manager Dharmesh Lakhani, said, “There were definitely fewer people this year and they all seemed to disappear by 9.30pm.”

Mr Lakhani thinks there should be more and better activities for people to enjoy so they do not leave as soon as the fireworks are over.

He added, “It is a good Leicester-based celebration but it has so much more potential to be an even greater event.”

It was the first year that Chai Panni, Belgrave Road has changed their format from a takeaway to restaurant which may have led to a fall in customers.

A worker for Chai Panni who did not want to be identified said, “We could have done better, we’ve not been as busy as previous years.

“There haven’t been as many customers coming through but maybe because there are more new places (restaurants) here or it could be because people have been put off by the credit crunch."

The atmosphere on the night mark the start of Diwali festivities was described as “electric”.

The Chai Panni employee added, “It’s like having a little bit of India on Melton Road.

Nilesh Tanna, said, “I come every year because you get to be part of the Leicester nationally renowned Diwali celebration.”

Shelley Anand who travelled from Nottingham to attend the event: said, “It’s the second consecutive year that I have been, its unique I don’t think you’ll find an atmosphere like it anywhere.

And she added: “Where else would you find an entire road closed off so that people could enjoy lights and fireworks.”

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