TravTalk - India
HAI gears up to bring change
MP Bezbauah, Secretary General, Hotel Association of India, shares why it is important for the government to prioritise giving industry status to tourism and hospitality industry in the country, as industry opens up for business.
The Hotel Association of India (HAI) recently held its 25th Annual General Meet (AGM), in which the executive committee, in recognition of the current team’s efforts during the pandemic, decided unanimously to re-elect the management committee for another two-year term.
MP Bezbauah, Secretary General, HAI, said that there has been a slight change in approach for HAI. “Our aim is creating awareness about the industry, and not just creating demands. We are about advocacy with the government, the public and other stakeholders, because people considered it as an elitist industry and did not require any support. With the government we do not have a demand-based approach, but a dialogue based approach, where we work towards solution of problems,” he shared.
He informed, “The tourism minister announced in the parliament that the job loss in the industry was more than one crore. We have been saying from the beginning that we need a mix of short term and long term approach."
“We are looking at the future, which has to be based on a longterm restructuring, for which the most important consideration is liquidity support. It is something like moratorium and its extension. For surviving, we had asked for waiver on those statutory dues, which was a creation of circumstances beyond the control of the industry or force majeure. Some things have been done, some are not. The moratorium was essential, but came a little late. However, it needs to be extended to be effective. We have asked for long-term restructuring of the interest rate applicable and for that we have asked for industry status as well as infrastructure status. The Finance Minister spoke about infrastructure being given a boost and that is where we think hospitality industry fits in,” he added.
Bezbaruah said that the association has told the minister the same thing. “The government’s own policy says that we will be one of the top five destinations in the next eight years. Thus, they must look at accommodation creation with the help of the industry and infrastructure status will help,” he said. Border opening
Bezbaruah shared that while the industry is “very happy” about border opening, a lot needs to be done about it. “Firstly, we need much more connectivity. If we need large number of tourists, we must open the whole country and not just the five metro cities as arrival points. There is a need to improve accommodation, which should not be limited to five-star hotels, but good decent accommodation. COVID has changed tourism and hospitality completely. The future is going to be based on confidence,” he said.