T he gem of the Indian hospitality industry and Mumbai’s iconic property The Taj Mahal Hotel which was converted into a 600-bed hospital during the First World War, has now put in place renewed and heightened hygiene protocols as the safety and well-being of guests have become a top priority for the Taj Group of Hotels during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic phase.
Another reputed hospitality chain, Oberoi Hotels, too has started following such norms including sanitising cars before proceeding to the airport or railway station for guests’ arrivals or departures. Known for its distinctive and traditional ‘Namaste’ logo depicting folded hands since 1970, Indian hospitality chain ITC Hotels has also laid out a new set of post-COVID hygiene rules, including refraining from handshakes or anything more personal across all its properties.
However, all is not well with the financial health of Indian hospitality chains as the lockdown imposed in the country since March has had a cascading effect on occupancy levels of all hotel properties across the country. The cancellation of international and domestic flights, and passenger trains across India for the past three months led to cancellations of hotel bookings in the country.
Although hotels located outside containment zones have been allowed to operate after 8 June as per ‘Unlock Phase 1’ guidelines announced by the ministry of home affairs (MHA), analysts believe it will be extremely challenging for hotels in India to generate adequate revenues in the months to come. India has resumed only domestic flight operations in a calibrated manner as international flights are disallowed currently. In a scenario where COVID medicine or vaccine is not available anywhere in the world presently, there exists a huge fear psychosis amongst business and leisure travellers in India – the seventh most corona-affected country in the world.
Moreover, most economists have projected that the Indian economy will record a contraction in GDP this financial year, while any recovery is certainly expected to be a long-drawn process. The organised private sector in India has witnessed massive job cuts or layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown in the recent past. This does not augur well for the Indian hospitality sector which has consistently thrived for the past many years on factors like buoyancy in the country’s economy and rising disposable incomes of Indian professionals.
Also, the MHA ‘Unlock Phase 1’ guidelines released recently state that people will be allowed to venture out between 5am and 9pm only except for medical or emergency purposes, should follow work from home and avoid visiting crowded, open spaces across the country. This means in the near future business or conference travel in India is expected to be minimal, leisure travel may not take off and food & beverage sales in hotels may dwindle. And, in the absence of any COVID drug or an effective serum, hotels across the country are not likely to witness high occupancy levels as the corona virus fear still continues to haunt every Indian citizen.
he gem of the Indian hospitality industry and Mumbai’s iconic property The Taj Mahal Hotel which was converted into a 600-bed hospital during the First World War, has now put in place renewed and heightened hygiene protocols as the safety and well-being of guests have become a top priority for the Taj Group of Hotels during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic phase.