Maharashtra government looks to empower the hospitality industry with its new policies

After taking progressive measures on 'industry status' for hospitality and reduction of unnecessary licenses, the Maharashtra Government is looking towards Caravan Tourism. They feel that road trips are going to do well in future as there is a barrier to use public transport therefore they are looking to incentivise the caravan stakeholders to join hands with them.

Valsa Nair Singh, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Excise & Civil Aviation, Government of Maharashtra acknowledges the need to revive the hospitality sector and discussed some of their plans to do so. She was speaking at the virtual event on Travel Safe, Stay Safe and Dine Safe organised by the IMC chamber of Commerce and Industry. Nair mentioned that instead of crying about the pandemic, one must think what can be done to overcome the crisis caused by it. Singh feels that this is the best time to come out with new policies and initiatives. The interaction was aimed towards the revival of the tourism and hospitality sector through various collective measures.

The innovative aspect was discussed in the form of Caravan Tourism, as the government feels that road trips are going to do well in future as there is a barrier to use public transport therefore the government is looking to incentivise the caravan stakeholders to join hands with them.  

She was optimistic about the tourism sector and believes that it is going to bounce back stronger. Singh acknowledged the role of the hospitality industry in the current pandemic as the government got a lot of support in the form of hotels which were transformed into quarantine centres. Hospitality industry contributes a significant part of the economy and therefore the government certainly cannot ignore it. Singh even picked some of the loopholes in the system which had been adversely affecting the industry, citing the example of 80 licenses one requires in order to start a restaurant or a hotel which eventually brought down the ease of doing business.

Out of those 80 licenses, 10 came under the control of the central government therefore rest 70 were figured out and brought down to 10. She also pointed out that the industry status to the hospitality industry was issued in the year 1998 but was not implemented until now. The current pandemic has created the need for immediate and extraordinary efforts from the government’s part. Almost every industry is struggling and looking for its revival. One such example is the Hospitality industry which highly depends upon the public’s ability to step out. Hence, the industry has gone through a severe crisis in the past few months.

Singh said that the pandemic has given the state the opportunity to fix several missing cogs in the travel and tourism industry. “Maharashtra is in a hurry to get things done with regard to travel and tourism. Instead of crying about the pandemic, we came out with policy initiatives, which will be seen when the industry reopens in the state. Some of the policies include the beach-shack policy that has been created by the state government, which ensures local employment, as well as the agro-tourism policy. It is a win-win for the for the farmer and the government,” she said, adding that the state is also focusing on caravan tourism in a post COVID-19 Maharashtra.

There was also a panel discussion that was moderated by Farhat Jamal, Chairman, Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Committee, IMC. The panellists included Himanshu Jain President -Indian Subcontinent, Diversey;Rohit Khosla Executive Vice President –Operations, North & West India, The Indian Hotels Company Limited; Homa Mistry Chief Executive Officer, Trail Blazer Tours India Private Limited; and Dr. Pasupathy Venkatraman, Lead Expert, Food Safety Training and Certification (FOSTAC), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

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