The struggle to survive and revive the travel & hospitality industry

June 29, 2021 2:08 PM

Once again, the time has come for people to look for ways to get their businesses back on track. People are going to their favourite vacation spots, borders are now open, restrictions are lifted, and there is no need to present negative RT-PCR test results. But the question is, what have we learned from the second wave?

traffic jamRoad Jam in Himachal Pradesh post second wave

By Aditya Vikram Singh

We’ve heard that the hotel business has been affected the hardest by the pandemic, but no one believes that the worst is yet to come. As per the reports, the second wave hit the industry very severely. Due to lack of resources, many restaurants and hotels were forced to shut down their business. When everyone was looking for revival, the second wave came as a tsunami and destroyed many businesses. According to recent news, major hotel operators such as Hyatt could not survive and had to temporarily suspend operations owing to a lack of finances. With this information, we can estimate the magnitude of the impact.

Once again, the time has come for people to look for ways to get their businesses back on track. People are going to their favourite vacation spots, borders are now open, restrictions are lifted, and there is no need to present negative RT-PCR test results. But the question is, what have we learned from the second wave?

We will repeat the same mistake by allowing people to travel to their favourite destinations without being vaccinated. We all know what happened in the second wave and how quickly the virus spread throughout the population. There is only one way to stop the spread of the coronavirus: vaccination.

Traffic jam in MussoorieTraffic jam in Mussoorie

Although operations have resumed and the government has permitted restaurants to operate at 50% capacity, there are a few things we must address before we begin so that the whole hospitality business does not shut down completely if the third wave arrives. We must take the following precautions: –

Vaccination efforts must be strongly promoted, because people need to feel safe when they travel somewhere. They should be allowed to travel to different locations at least after the first dose. Furthermore, it should be made essential for people to display their vaccination certificates while making reservations.

Hygiene should be prioritised, and strict hygiene standards must be maintained. Rooms, lobbies, kitchens, and so on must be adequately disinfected on a regular basis.

Owners must get their employees vaccinated as soon as possible. It should be made necessary that no hotel or restaurant can operate if its staff is not vaccinated. We cannot jeopardise the lives of workers or visitors. It is critical that we realise the importance of life over livelihood.

The lockdown has a negative economic impact on the tourism and hospitality industries. According to the most latest numbers, it would take at least a year or two for the hospitality industry to regenerate and return to normal operations. As a result, the government’s support is also required; they must promote domestic tourism and hotels. Various projects should be implemented to emphasise India’s beauty. To maximise business and readily make up for losses, every state must vigorously promote its tourism and hospitality industries.

Sustainable tourism and hospitality should be encouraged. We must start by understanding the demands of tourists and expanding our future opportunities.

We must encourage individuals that they should travel within the country for at least a year in order to help us compensate for the loss. In exchange, we must be innovative in our approach; we must identify new business modules that offer new products on the catering menu to attract them, or we must look at certain areas of the hotel that need to be refurbished or updated.

International travel restrictions provide a great opportunity for the business to actively promote domestic tourism. This will immediately assist the hospitality and tourism industry in recovering from losses and demonstrating the national hospitality and tourist industry’s potential. Drawing inspiration from the leading geographical environment and driven by strict controls and vaccination, India should keep up with the new trends and see a lot of pent-up demand helping the industry recover.

The announcement of the free issue of 5 lakh tourist visas is a significant government step that will aid the industry’s recovery. However, while this would assist the industry in dealing with losses, safety will remain a major concern. As the new delta plus variation raises concerns about the third wave, we must ensure that these visas are only granted to fully vaccinated traveller, and an RT-PCR test should be required when they arrive.

The government will also provide working capital or personal loans to people in the tourism and hospitality sectors in order to discharge liabilities or restart businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19. This step will assist the industry, particularly hoteliers, in covering their losses because they must deal with everything from paying electricity bills to managing salaries, rentals, bank payments, and expenses. This is a huge step by the government, and the industry applauds it.

(The Author is in Corporate Communications Deptt at FHRAI, The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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