India as a country had been doing wonders and complete justice to it’s tourism and hospitality potential, as predicted by numerous surveys, in the pre-COVID era. With Influx of inbound tourist crossing the 10 million mark, annual growth rate of over 7 percent, being one of the leading foreign currency earner industry, considerable numbers in Foreign Direct Investment and direct or indirect engagement or employability of over 40 million people in the trade, India was moving at a very fast pace towards one of the most sought after destinations in the world map.
The COVID-19 era has definitely struck the world and the country with enormous setbacks, which has directly influenced business, employability and sustenance across all sectors, specifically the hotel and tourism industry along with aviation. This is a known fact as on date and there is no denial to this catastrophic setback.
Moving ahead from the disaster, which is beyond the control of mankind at this stage, it is imperative to mention a researched and proven “Shloka” of “Chanakya the Great”, which states that the stars are seen the brightest on the darkest of nights. This statement fits the best for the tourism and hospitality industry, as this industry has always been the worst hit in any kind of natural disasters like an earthquake, Tsunami etc., and manmade disasters like war, terrorist activities or change in policy framework of states. However, every time this industry has faced odds, it has rebounded with success and new vigor to scale new heights of achievement.
The COVID-19 era will also not be an exception to this rule, which manifests the indomitable and non-suppressible spirit and enthusiasm of this industry. A global future travel survey conducted in April 2020 by Preferred Hotels & Resorts suggests a very optimistic outlook. The survey reveals, people who want to travel with around half of the people (more than 50 percent) across countries worldwide say they’ll book a trip in 2020 itself, and do so as soon as travel restrictions are lifted or eased.
The survey was conducted amongst 3,695 of its members participating from the United States (56 percent); Europe (14 percent); Canada (11 percent); Asia Pacific (9 percent); all other regions (10 percent). It revealed that 75 percent of respondents plan to travel with family, having spent so much time apart; they are ready to reunite with loved ones. It added that more than 50 percent of people intend to travel regionally or domestically while 40 percent still want to travel to another continent. Surprisingly contrary to what perception is, over 80 percent of the participants were ready to travel by air.
We are hopeful that from June onwards domestic tourism will start witnessing some recovery signs. India has so far created a case study in managing the effects of the pandemic by implementing the lockdown. This has developed a lot of confidence in the domestic capabilities hence attracting travel enthusiasts to explore more local experiences. This confidence in capabilities is bound to have a positive impact by way of increased trust in domestic travel-tourism players. The key focus will be on non-conventional tourist attractions and this will pave the path for opening up of new destinations, hotels for those destinations, infrastructure network, sustainable community development and generation of employment.
For the sector to bounce back once the operations resume, the industry has come up with new policies and concepts and reboot its services, giving priority to health and hygiene. Most travelers are already interested in browsing the internet for quick getaway trips with experienced hosts who can guarantee safety and have stringent health checks. Technologically adept places with medical facilities nearby will be a must. Security and screening will become the norm with wellness at the core of all functions. A doctor on call will be as important as offering wellness programs, yoga, spa, forest bathing etc. Health and hygiene will be a major factor with guests taking extra precautions in making sure that their rooms and all common areas are not just cleaned but also regularly sanitized with external parties.
What we need to understand is that the old world order no longer exists and mindful, conscious living with an affordable cost that is curated and tailor-made is the new norm. Social media will become the new go-to tour agent and people more than ever will be drawn in by authentic storytelling and experiences.
The industry is thus all set to make its mark in the post-COVID era and will definitely emerge victorious as it has always been, serving people and mankind, searching a “Home away from Home”.
International tourism and hospitality growth continues to outpace the global economy. 1.5 billion International tourist arrivals were recorded in 2019, globally. A 4 percent increase on the previous year which is also forecast for 2020, confirming tourism as a leading and resilient economic sector, especially in view of current uncertainties. By the same token, this calls for such growth to be managed responsibly so as to best seize the opportunities tourism can generate for communities around the world. In 2020, UNWTO celebrates the Year of Tourism and Rural Development, and we hope to see our sector lead positive change in rural communities, creating jobs and opportunities, driving economic growth and preserving culture.
I strongly believe that the long-term outlook remains compelling in India, despite notable short-term challenges. I also believe that despite short-term volatility, the country’s strong foundation—built on structural reform, the domestic nature of the market, and prudent monetary and fiscal policy—should help it to navigate the current challenging market environment.
The situation will gradually improve, but some unconventional measures are necessary due to COVID-19. Despite the short-term challenges, we retain our long-term view on India. Indeed, our constructive Indian equity outlook is founded on the structural reforms that the current administration undertook in its first term. These measures laid the foundation for a formalisation-led growth. We may also discuss that with these fundamental building blocks in place, the India government has a unique opportunity to revitalize economic growth through the 3Rs:
Recycle — Funding government spending needs through the privatisation of state-owned enterprise assets.
Rebuild — Aggregating savings by providing tax cuts to the private sector and households.
Reinvest — Providing incentives for manufacturing firms to reinvest such savings to substitute imports and increase the country’s global market share of exports.
We should believe the 3Rs will help address India’s cyclical growth challenges through higher government spending, increased savings for the private sector and households, and create more job opportunities for the undergraduate and postgraduate tourism and hospitality students.
We can have a positive look in the long term of the tourism and hospitality industry. As there is no option of FTAs and no outbound tourism for this year and next year too, so we can focus on domestic tourists and Incredible India. The Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India has already started the campaign “Dekho Apna Desh” to promote destinations of India. We need to develop some rules for the tourists and community too for this time and we can take the benefit of it. At least, people will understand the clean hygiene at the tourist destination and hope it will be a habit for them. We will get long-term benefit from it. Obviously, the Govt. should be involved with these activities. In the coming few months, we can focus on sustainability concepts and when one starts everything again, the tourism industry will again boom and contribute a high percentage of countries GDP and provide the innumerable jobs for the students. We may apply the 6 S’s to improving these critical encounters through effective redesign.
Specification means clearly detailing information about the what, when, where, and how, of service encounters.
Staff in the hospitality industry must be trained to enhance all the issues resolved in time,
Space means a big area being controlled and operated by the hotel management and the staff.
System of working as a family and in a healthy atmosphere be supplemented and enhanced to face any number of clienteles in the hotel.
Support from all the managerial staff makes a real sense of developing the adjustments made by the hotel.
Style applied to all the rooms, bar, restaurant, poolside side and the lobby must be so eccentric that the onlookers feel proud to be part of such an organisation.
We may implement in India the same measure that was taken by Kerala tourism – the 6S’s
Swagat: Hospitality (facilitation on arrival and memorable experience).
Soochna: Information (marketing and promotion, information dissemination).
Suvidha: Facilitation (Accommodation and stay, amenities and convenience).
Suraksha: Carefulness, safety and protection (Tourist care environment).
Shyyog: Cooperation (Coordination, Quality control and assurance).
Sanrachna: Infrastructure (Tourism product development, Core and linkages infrastructure).
Hospitality – This is the future:
The writer is Professor and Principal, School of Tourism and Hotel Management, NSHM Knowledge Campus, Durgapur. He moved as a Head of Department for Management Studies at IHM-Aurangabad which is Tata Enterprise and affiliated to the University of Huddersfield, the U.K. His educational qualification consists of a Ph.D. from Banasthali University in Management and Ancient Indian History, M.A in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, M.B.A in Human Resource Management from Pondicherry University, Certificate from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT- Delhi), Diploma in Hotel Management from IHM- Bhubaneswar, Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India and B.Sc Zoology Hons from T. Bhagalpur University. He started his career with Hotel Amarvilas (Oberoi Hotels) from campus then moved to F&B Manager in Budget hotel. In 2006 he joined as a lecturer in the Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India and in 2008 again joined as a Training Manager and later promoted as Academic Coordinator and Centre Head at Chandigarh with company Berggruen Edu Pvt.Ltd.