The hospitality industry’s mantra for 2022


Just as the industry began to see a flickering light at the end of a long tunnel towards the end of 2021, the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and the subsequent extension of the suspension of international scheduled passenger flights until January 31. 2022, came as a drag on those looking to do business during the winter season.

With inbound tourist arrivals being unlikely amid the pandemic, the industry wants the government to encourage domestic travel with tax breaks for a limited period to help the hospitality and tourism sector recover in the face of the crisis. exploiting pent-up vacation demand, in the country.

According to the industry body Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), already 25 to 30 percent of establishments in the organized sector comprising around 60,000 hotels and 5 lakh restaurants have already closed and 15 percent may follow suit. ‘there is no impetus from the government to revive the sector.

“Right now we’re not even talking about reviving because I don’t think we should. We can’t revive. Revival is when you bring back something that’s gone,” he told PTI FHRAI Vice President Gurbaxish Singh Kohli.

The hospitality industry deals with the “most perishable commodity” because if a hotel room or a table reservation cannot be sold on a given day, “it is gone forever,” he said. declared.

“So relaunch is out of the question. You have to survive first… our lost business is lost forever,” Kohli said, adding that some people had used their retained funds for expansion and growth in order to cope. contingencies and working capital expenses and are now exhausted. of cash.

“To survive how long can they go on now with zero funds is a guess we have to make … So the number one priority should be how to keep the industry from falling further because neither the government nor the the fellowship can afford to let that happen, ”he said.

Expressing similar views, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) President Kabir Suri said: “Most of us are still trying to survive. 60% of people are still trying to survive and any further disruption would only make the pain worse. “

Reflecting on how badly the industry has been affected by the pandemic, he said, “There has been a lot of erosion when it comes to our industry, 30% of restaurants across India have closed permanently.

“There were around 7 lakh restaurants in India in the organized and unorganized sector. There was a large amount of unemployment which was caused by the closure of restaurants.”

When asked how long could the sector take to revive, Kohli said, “There is still a very long way and a long ladder to go to reach the level, which we consider to be the pre level. -pandemic… We expect to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, it will take at least 12 months, provided things remain normal. “

Still, hope is eternal and the industry tries to stay positive, taking inspiration from people starting to travel and dine as vaccinations increase and COVID-related restrictions relaxed and there was optimism. cautious in the air despite the threat of the Omicron a variant.

“The outlook in general, there is optimism, because since September, business has picked up, people are dining out,” Suri said, adding that things were improving until the epidemic of the Omicron variant was reported, which made people cautious again.

Kohli said more people are looking forward to travel to overcome fatigue from restrictions due to the pandemic and now is the right time for the government to hard sell India as a destination with facilitation measures and incentives for encourage the 28 million and more people who travel. stay back and spend vacations in the interior of the country.

Encouraging domestic travel through tax cuts or tax deductions for an agreed term of two to three years will fill the void and help local tourism to survive until international travel resumes. -he declares.

In addition, Suri said that companies in the sector should be allowed to obtain funding from the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and the National Employees’ Insurance (ESI) “when there are such disruptions and that businesses are not able to survive “because” the money is already with the government “.

Further, he said, “Our GST input credit was eliminated when the GST was implemented. So just giving us back our input credit would be a great relief. We are one of the only industries in India that does not get any kind of input credit tax credit on our purchases. “

Operationally, Federation of Indian Tourism and Hospitality Associations (FAITH) Consulting CEO Aashish Gupta said that while the Omicron variant did not pose a serious threat, the decision to ban international flights scheduled passengers until January 31, 2022 had to be reviewed at the earliest to save some business from the winter season.

“The Indian tourism travel and hospitality industry has been eagerly awaiting the resumption of flights on December 15. As of March 2020, inbound tourism has been closed and the previously announced resumption of flights was a beacon of hope,” a- he declared.

Amidst all of this, as 2021 draws to a close, the hospitality and tourism industry is desperately hoping that there won’t be a repeat of the second wave seen earlier in the year in 2020.

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