Getting travellers to the destination is a challenge right now: T. Banambar Patra
T. Banambar Patra, Managing Director, Toshali Resorts International shares how hotels still continue to stand strong in the face of the current crisis situation.
What are the main challenges that hotels are facing in Odisha?
It is over four months since the resorts and hotels in Odisha are under shut down as per the direction of Govt of Odisha. Though we have been allowed to open the resorts and hotels with 20 -30% manpower since 8th of June 2020, but major worry is that there is no travel permission by air, train and bus, cars due to containment zones, lockdown and shutdown, as most of tourist and visitors are from outside the state like Maharashtra, Delhi, Telengana, Gujarat, UP, MP, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and North East. Hence, even though resorts and hotels have followed Covid-19 guidelines of Govt of India and Odisha, there are no guests in hotels. The challenges are now, how to meet the expenses such as power, water, electricity, and maintenance cost along with staff salary. Since our property Toshali Sands Puri, spread over 30 acres, is an eco-friendly ethnic village resort with its own certified organic garden, guests from local and outside States prefer to stay here during their visit to Shree Jagannath Dham Puri and beaches of Konark. Presently, despite having abundance of space in our resort for maintaining social distance and strict adherence to Covid 19 safety guidelines, the challenge is travel of guests to our resort as well as all other hotels due to mobility restrictions and also their apprehensions because of sudden rise of Corona cases in the country. In this uncertainty, allaying the fear of guests and winning their perception in favour of hotel industry is an arduous challenge today.
How far have you been impacted by natural calamities?
Covid-19 has impacted in maintaining the resorts and hotels on this natural calamity of Corona Pandemic. Staff are not reaching for their employment due to family restrictions with a fear that the virus may affect them and in return spreading to community at their villages, towns and cities. Being a beach resort we are prone to natural calamities every year due to severe cyclones, for example, last year our resort Toshali Sands Puri was badly affected by cyclone Fani with severe damage to property but we bounced back within few weeks. But this time the closure of resorts for months due to Corona has given us severe blow and unbearable loss.
What are your expectations from your GM in terms of ROI?
Due to volatility of the current situation of Corona pandemic, we are not expecting any ROI now as there is no occupancy because guests are not keen to visit resorts out of fear and also travel restrictions.
The ‘Big Indian wedding’ is not so big anymore, your comment on the same.
We must conform to the adversity of the current scenario. ‘Big Indian Wedding’ has given way to closely held intimate weddings with limited gathering. But still then we can manage the luxurious and sophisticated marriages in a small scale (within 50 limits) through proper social distancing and safety, the way we did recently at Toshali Sands Puri. There would be weddings everywhere but due to Covid-19, weddings have been suspended or postponed which has impacted on the couples whose dates have been finalized. Every family in the country is waiting to have marriages as per their choices subject to relaxation by the Govt. Even the hospitality and tourism industry is waiting for the positive support from the Government in extending interest-free loans for running and maintaining all small and star hotels thereby ensuring survival and revival of the industry.
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