By Nofisat Marindoti
As the Osun Osogbo festival takes place this year amid the Coronavirus pandemic, hoteliers and restaurant hotels have counted their losses.
The Osun Osogbo festival is celebrated in the month of August annually amid great fun-fare with worshippers from other parts of Nigeria and foreign countries gracing the occasion.
This year's celebration was however the opposite of what it used to be. The State Government had announced that only those traditionally crucial to the rites would be allowed into the sacred groove while there would be no social gathering.
In a chat with NPOReports, the manager of Aenon Suites, Mr. Matthew Izungie, said the pandemic has greatly affected the hospitality business.
He lamented that as against previous years, the hotel has less guests and more expenses due to the pandemic.
In his words, "Basically, the pandemic has affected the business greatly. It's one very big deal, usually during a period like this, we have guests even from overseas- the Americans but now, we have few guests and we spend more money.
"Due to the pandemic, we disinfect our rooms as often as possible, our doorknobs at least twice a day, so the pandemic has come with lots of challenges and brought so many changes."
Also, the manager of DC Hotels, Mr Jimi Fajuke said the pandemic has left great impacts on the business.
He recalled that during the previous Osun Osogbo festivals, his hotel rooms were usually fully booked that he used to refer guests to other hotels.
He added that however, this year's festival looks like every other day with no extra patronage to show the festival is ongoing.
"The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the entire world and its economy and the hospitality business is not left out. We are just striving to survive the punches of the pandemic.
"During the previous festivals, our patronage used to be on the very high side that I referred guests from outside the state to other hotels. Our facilities were usually overstressed. But this year, it is just like every other day, we pray God brings an end to the pandemic soon," he said.
In their separate addresses, two restaurant owners, Mrs. Odunola Nurudeen and Mrs. Olayinka Adeoye, said the pandemic has changed the face of the Osun Osogbo festival.
"See the way we are sitting down. We almost don't know today is Osun Osogbo festival. Everything is so dull, there has been no patronage at all compared to the way it used to be.
"Even during the Ebola disease, things were not like this. This coronavirus has affected everything. You can imagine that the "Arugba" that used to be accompanied with lot of people, singing and dancing only went with few people to the shrine. She even went earlier than the usual time.
"There are no foreigners this years, even the Osun worshippers are not much. Everything is just so different, we really pray God cleanse the world of this pandemic," Nurudeen added.