Indian hospitality industry cancels 2020

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Indian hospitality industry cancels 2020

Return to 2019 activity levels not before 2022

Unlike many other hoteliers in the country, Segiyane Paquiry, who manages hotels like Villa Shanti in Pondicherry, claims to have retained all of its staff despite confinement and the total lack of activity.

Even though hotels in many Indian states were allowed to reopen a fortnight ago, most hoteliers believe it would take at least two years for business to pick up.

The Taj Rambagh Palace in Jaipur is one of the iconic hotels in the capital of Rajasthan. First built in 1835, the property has undergone various transitions and renovations to be used for the last time as the residence of the former Jaipur royal family of Sawai Man Singh II and his queen Gayatri Devi. Today it is one of the first hotels of the Taj Group and attracts affluent clients not only from all over India but also from all over the world.

However, even weeks after it reopened, the property with 78 grand luxe rooms restored to their regal glory, continued to be deserted with almost no guests. The story is similar in virtually every hotel across the country that was only recently allowed to resume operations after a nearly three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The shutdown has already had catastrophic results for the industry, with hundreds of hotels being forced to either lay off multiple employees or simply lock the doors forever. “It may still be early, but reports indicate that dozens of smaller and medium-sized hotels in and around here have closed for good,” Segiyane Paquiry, a French investor of Indian origin who created four hotels in the southern city of Pondicherry. , former French colony, tells India Media Group.

The story is the same across the country, in the northeast Himalayan state of Sikkim, where once again several hotels have closed their shutters for good. According to the hotel industry association, FHRAI, so far hundreds of hotels have already closed, while thousands more could suffer the same fate unless the government intervenes urgently with corrective action and lending a helping hand to the industry. Industry demands are rather basic, involving deferred taxes, reduced electricity bills, but the most important demand concerns the easing of loan repayment terms. “As the hotel industry is very capital intensive, it is crucial that the government allow hotels to defer repayment of principal and interest for the next few months and without any penalties,” said Apurv Kumar, Managing Director of Clarks Group of hotels . , with over 150 properties across the country, including Clarks Amer in Jaipur where he is based.

Another key request is for help paying hotel workers’ salaries as long as the business remains at record levels. “In many European countries, governments have paid money to the people to ensure that they can survive and fend for themselves during the crisis. However, here in India we lack that kind of security system and as hotels have been operating at a complete loss since the lockdown began, it would not be possible for all hotels in the country to continue paying full wages to the people. employees, ” adds Kumar.

K Abhilash, director of Kairali Ayurvedic Village, an NABH certified Ayurvedic treatment facility built in a resort environment in the southern state of Kerala, agrees that the situation has also been very difficult for his business. “Even though we have had absolutely no income since the lockdown began, we have rather high operating costs, ranging between 1.5-2 million INR per month, including basic maintenance of the station and payment of wages. We had to send some of our employees on unpaid leave and retrained others so they could work in other verticals of the company that can help get them on the payroll, ”says- he.

Although the lockdown has been eased considerably in the country, the hotel industry’s woes are far from over. Most hoteliers are extremely pessimistic about the possibility of a revival in the immediate or even in the near future. “We haven’t received any guests since our reopening earlier this month. A major factor is the difficulty of traveling within the country, while the fact that many of our key facilities like the spa and pool are still closed due to government regulations, I don’t see much point in the share of customers who would like to enjoy all the facilities when they pay the full price, ” says the general manager of an ultra-luxury resort in Jaipur belonging to a leading hotel group in the country. Media India Group.

Hoteliers also complain about the arbitrary manner in which the rules are changed and the wide variation in the rules governing travel and hospitality in various states across the country, which also have a chilling effect on domestic traffic which would resume before tourists. internationals are starting to come back. in India.

Abhilash says that with his company’s 55 clients coming from overseas, the lockdown has meant the entire year has been swept away as the season begins in September and continues through March. In the absence of clarity on the resumption of international air links, Kairali will remain closed throughout this year. “We have decided to continue training our current staff and renovate the entire property and will not reopen until January 2021. As explained previously, a large portion of our visitors come from outside India. We don’t see many foreign visitors visiting India in the current short term. Air connectivity is also a problem, ”said Abhilash India Media Group.

Apurv Kumar is even more pessimistic about a revival. “Although some domestic tourists may start traveling in a few months, I don’t expect foreign guests to come to India for much longer than that. I can say it could take until 2022 for the real numbers to reappear, ”says Kumar.

Another challenge for hoteliers would be that even when tourists start traveling again, they can look for bargains due to the economic shock of lockdowns not only in India but around the world. However, the hotels themselves will see a significant increase in their operating costs due to new regulations governing safety and health such as social distancing, disinfection and protective equipment for staff. “A higher price could indeed become a deterrent, at least for some of our customers,” says Abhilash.


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