Hospitality is one of the worst hit industries due to the Coronavirus crisis. With no relief package offered by the government to ease the burden out, big chains might withstand the onslaught, boutique properties have an uphill task.
IANS spoke to Ms Shoba Mohan, founder of RARE India for her opinion on the current situation and an expert outlook on the times to come. RARE India is an advocate of small, private, concept hotels which continues to celebrate a community of small, private and intimate non-hotels.
Do you agree that hospitality is one of the hardest hit sectors of the COVID-19 crisis?
Mohan: There is no denying the fact that tourism is one of the first and the major casualties following the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown has limited access and has held people within their homes and their own countries.
The following months might be tough for the industry with no definite vision of a recovery. We are all in the wait and watch mode. The amazing surge in knowledge sessions on zoom and chats has ensured an engagement like never before.
While on the reset it is time to rethink our businesses and bring Sustainability and responsible tourism into focus to run travel as a business that places the planet and the community before profits.
What is the negative impact to hospitality, starting around March 15, 2020 through June, and even longer if the situation prevails?
Mohan: In terms of financial value, if the next full fledges season revives by Oct of 2020, we could be looking at losses on the current books for the inbound to be close to 20-25 percent. The Domestic and the outbound, the summers which are their key months are completely wiped out so you the loses can be upwards of 40 percent.
Since the impact to the traveller is yet to be gauged and how they will behave post the lockdown is not an easy answer. There will be real fear for health and hygiene, confidence levels are very low and we may see this last till over January.
How will the tourism sector get impacted this year if countries worldwide continue to seal borders and air travel remains suspended?
Mohan: The tourism sector might experience a huge shift post Covid-19 in terms of both policy as well as operational practices. We can expect to witness a reinvented version of travel, not to imply that the morning after the lockdown people would wake up transformed but one can assume that changes might be inculcated steadily into practice.
Domestic travel might be the first to begin that should eventually be followed by international travel so building an awareness around domestic travel and popularizing it especially through social media could be a widely adopted practice. We can also expect health and hygiene practices to scale up across the sector.
With a focus on the environment, will green properties which focus on sustainability have an edge in the ‘new normal’ world of travel?
Mohan: Most certainly, as one of the key factors for the RARE hotels which work towards being a sustainable hotel and destination is to retain the integrity of the destination by maintaining its green covers, many times you will see that trees are not cut during construction, and the architecture and design always keeps preservation in perspective.
To be energy efficient hotels, retreats and lodges keep the ratio of land to keys generous and usually stick to 10-15 rooms or cottages is vast acreage. Any ‘green’ hotel worth its name will have best practises for safe and hygienic garbage disposal, water conservation, train the community and optimise hygiene protocol. Also being non-tourist destination hotels they tend to be pristine and in and around green zones.