Limiting Contact Need Not Limit Warmth: Nakul Anand

At the 5th edition of BW HOTELIER’s Indian Hospitality Awards and Summit, Eminent hotelier Nakul Anand (Executive Director, ITC Limited) spoke about the challenges faced by the hospitality sector because of the deadly coronavirus pandemic and lauded its spirit to overcome these.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit every sector across the globe and brought the world to its knees. The spread of COVID-19 has left businesses counting costs and industries pondering on the roadmap to recovery. According to the Ministry of Statistics, India's growth in the fourth quarter of the fiscal2020 went down to 3.1 per cent and according to the World Bank, the current pandemic has ‘magnified pre-existing risks to India's economic outlook’. 


The black swan event has disrupted the entire value chain of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Battling the Covid-19 pandemic is a huge challenge before the world and a crisis of dimensions that are unprecedented and incomparable to any past experience. The 9/11 event changed the airports’ security forever and after that 26/11 disrupted the serenity of the hospitality industry. However, the Executive Director of ITC limited, Nakul Anand believes that when one feels that ‘they have aced the game, the rules change’. He says, “The tenacity in our planning and the astuteness of our self-proclaimed business algorithms crumble to the unforeseeable.” 

“What brings about this change is disruption, a force, which by its very definition will catch us unaware. It will compel us to focus on ‘what is at hand’ and not ‘what we had in mind’. Each crisis taught us something and while we assumed we had learnt to deal with such disruptions, the nature of the disruptor itself changed. It will throw our plans to the wind. No amount of adjustment to our sails will help. Disruption will challenge our very cope-ability and not just our capability,” he adds. 

Nakul Anand was speaking at the 5th Indian Hospitality Awards and Summit 2020 organised by BW HOTELIER. India’s biggest and most talked about virtual event that witnessed participation from every stakeholder of the industry including hoteliers, culinary stars, restaurateurs, architects, procurement heads, designers etc. 

Lauding BW HOTELIER for its effort in bringing together the industry to discuss opportunities and challenges in a time where uncertainty prevails and also celebrating hoteliers to boost their morale. He expresses, “A great initiative, the IHA in its 5th year, has come a long way in such a short time. Holding the awards during a lockdown is indeed commendable. It demonstrates BW’s commitment and sense of purpose. Both for the jury and the nominees, this event will be case study in how this Industry can come together at the time of crisis. The virtual summit has some of the finest names from Indian hospitality. I have always believed in the power of an idea and am sure each of you will have many such to brighten the way forward.” 

Commenting about the new normal i.e. being confined within own homes, Anand expresses that ‘homeground has become the new playground’. He further says, “Never in modern history have countries had to ask citizens around the world to stay home, curb travel and keep physical distance. Families are separated, children cannot play outdoors, friends cannot meet, the faithful cannot worship together, and communities cannot gather to celebrate important events.

The world’s population is living in fear and uncertainty, not only of physical illness but also of the crumbling of livelihoods, communities and economies.” 

“Millions are struggling under financial strain, losing jobs and income, unable to afford daily necessities and despairing of their future. The suffering is widespread – from loneliness, isolation and heartbreak to anxiety, anger and despair. More than ever, our resilience as individuals and as a society is vital for survival,” he adds. 


Furthermore, he suggests that healthy minds, healthy habits, strong families, a caring circle of friends, and supportive communities will strengthen one’s fortitude to cope up the novel coronavirus. 

Talking about the new health, hygiene and safety protocols adapted by the hotel industry, Anand states, “Health and hygiene becomes paramount, ushering in a new era of hotel service attempting to make the invisible visible with low or no touch or contact-light sanitised protocols converge with social and physical distancing (safe - distancing) to establish a new norm. Hotels will have to redefine and repurpose their spaces, places and experiences arising from the dual concern of distancing and disinfecting striking the right balance of connect and space.” 

According to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the global tourism industry lost 320 billion dollars in exports in the first five months of 2020 and 120 million jobs were at risk due to the pandemic. As per recent Mckinsey study, it will take four to seven years for the nine trillion dollar tourism economy to return to the 2019 level. 

Elaborating on the systematic approach for the tourism industry’s revival; Anand, who is also the Chairman of Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) informs, “In the event of such uncertainty the torch bearers of tourism associations-FAITH, with one eye on the microscope and the other eye on the telescope, outlined a systematic three phased approach which is ‘survival’, ‘revival’ and ‘thrival’. It is obvious that for thrival, India will need to be more incredible than ever to take a larger piece of a smaller pie.” 

“To take one step forward we need to take two step backwards. Everything old is new again. In the innovation obsessed modern lifestyle, our ancient, traditional practices based on the tried, tested and trusted tripod could address all modern day concerns arising from the pandemic and thus become the new beacon of light for Tourism India,” he adds.

Further pointing the importance of healthy food habits that is essential in boosting the immunity during the challenging times, Anand strongly believes that ‘Ayurveda’ promotes the preventative healthy living practices through daily and seasonal regime focusing on diets, activities boosting immunity, rather than depending on the reactive approach of modern medicare using anti-viral or anti-biotics. Ancient Indians accorded great importance to health and wellness derived from the practice of yoga and Ayurveda. “The basis of all life’s endeavours is Swasthya. ‘Let food be thy medicine.’ Eating according to seasons, food that was grown locally and cooked in earthen ware lent high levels of immunity,” he asserts. 

Quoting ‘Bhagwat Gita’, he says, “You eat what you are and, you are what you eat.” 

The current crisis has forced everyone to reflect upon their physical and mental well-being. The hospitality industry stalwart is also of the opinion that in the new normal wellbeing has to be addressed holistically and should be built on the foundation of health, safety and sustainability. He expresses, “Let's align with the nature in absolute harmony to enhance immunity to any such future episodes. This is where India can become Incredible again, create experiences that reduce anxiety and enhance wellbeing own this space, bring the world to experience and learn, create opportunities and expose the world to our rich knowledge while infusing all this into our current tourism treasure trove.” 

“We need to blend our current Tourism assets with our ancient wisdom so that tourists carry back a valuable ‘souvenir’ – a new skill of ways to a harmonious living,” he adds. 

Concluding his address, Nakul Anand shares pearls of wisdom for the industry, he says, “Limiting contact need not limit warmth. We are not only providers of rooms and food but are theatres of experience where guests want to live emotion, they crave experiences especially personalised ones that will transport their senses to those different dimensions of happiness where memories are made. We must uphold our Ethos of Atithi Devo Bhava – There cannot be a better example than our humble Namaste.”


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