Re-double efforts, put forth demands forcefully: Anil Bhandari

In a recent BW HOTELIER WebBlast, Anil Bhandari, Chairman of AB Smart Concepts, raised major points of concern for the hospitality sector while it is facing desperate times due to the current pandemic situation.

Anil Bhandari, Chairman of AB Smart Concepts has said “It is very sad Prime Minister Narendra Modi in every speech speaks about the 5Ts, which includes tourism. It was the first time that any prime minister spoke about tourism but what is happening, down the line, is very shocking and surprising is that nothing is being done for tourism.” Bhandari was speaking at the BW HOTELIER Breaking The Pandemic WebBlast – ‘Future of the Hospitality Industry: An Outside In View. In the webinar, Bhandari elucidated his views about the current situation of the sector and suggested strategies for the industry to survive. 

After all, the Indian hospitality and tourism sector clocks almost 17 lakh crores of revenue which contributes to over ten per cent of the country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and the industry employs over 43 million people i.e. nine per cent of the employment in the country. And yet, there has been a negligible sign of relief measure being provided to the sector by the government. 

Reportedly, the association bodies like Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), and Hotel Association of India (HAI) have been pro-actively representing the issues of the sector to work collaboratively with the government to enact industry-friendly policies.

Bhandari argued, “I feel we need to re-double our efforts and put forth our demands more forcefully. The associations need to appoint a person of stature as Secretary-General like FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) to represent our concerns to the government. I suggest that multi-pronged lobbying should be done through television interviews or talks, social media, print media, and political big names.” Bhandari also informed that the United Nations World Tourism Organisations (UNWTO) had also urged the sector in different countries to put pressure on their respective governments to make industry-friendly policies.

Issue of Concern

With over five decades of experience in the hospitality sector, industry veteran Bhandari further discussed the concerns on the hotels being requisitioned completely by the government and linked to hospitals. Understanding the need of the hour, he completely stood with the government’s plan but expressed concern for the hoteliers who are losing payments due to no show of patients nor getting any accommodation from the guests for being attached to hospitals.

Bhandari also listed other areas of concern such as shortage of resources, fear amongst the staff, lack of training to accommodate infected patients, and necessary investments on disinfectants and proper gear.

Taking the discussion further, Bhandari stated that the hotel owners will have to invest hugely once the hotels are delinked to assure confidence amongst guests. He said, “After the Covid-19 comes under control, the hotels will be delinked from the hospitals and then they have to fully disinfect and refurbish. This will further add to the losses of hotels, which are already bleeding since lockdown. I am afraid that the situation is extremely grim at this structure and several hotels may shut down due to credit rising levels unless the government gives financial support.”

The Former Chairman of ITDC (Indian Tourism Development Corporation) believes that the pandemic will be a catalyst for change - changing the business models and impacting every aspect of life. He asserted, “There will be three major factors governing the hotel and F&B business – hygiene, sanitation, and social distancing.” Bhandari brought to notice that a hotel has 200 touch-points to be taken care of and a lot of start-ups are coming up with various innovations for the sector. He opined that people have to start utilizing the technology to thrive in the longer run. Bhandari optimistically shared, “It is time to work as a team with determination and positive attitude. In fact, with the right attitude, one can emerge stronger and wiser after this crisis.”


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