Life has once again, offered us a blank canvas and we can paint it in the Colours of our choice. We have our mistakes to learn from and an opportunity to implement the learnings in the right manner.
The services offered by various forms of hospitality are more or less an inevitable part of our life styles. The Tourism Industry is responsible for exposing the world to some of the most gorgeous parts on Earth and unfolds some of the most well preserved secrets, to the world in various forms such as Leisure & Luxury Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Wild Life Tourism, Eco Friendly Tourism,Social Events and Destination Weddings,Corporate Offsite Meetings & Conferences, Family and Social Vacations, Gourmet Tourism / Restaurants & Eateries, Cruises/Water Tourism and more.
As one reads through the list of various services being offered through hospitality channels. We realise how fortunate, we are to live, in a Nation which is blessed geographically to be able to cater to these experiences in its natural habitat. These wide range of services are extensively utilized by various segments of the society. This not just exposes nature and the large topography to constant use-age but also makes them vulnerable to misuse.
While there as a plethora of opportunity it also leaves us with as much responsibility to preserve and prevent it from being damaged.Today with most of the us locked down, relevant data suggests that nature has healed in leaps and bounds. We must not allow this convalescence of Nature to go wasted.
Before the adrenaline rush takes over with all the passionate professionals and travellers back in action, let us spend some time in evaluating the positive changes we need to incorporate. Change is vital at this point of time. It requires a combined effort by all i.e the professionals delivering these services, the guests consuming and authorities permitting them . It is time for us as a fraternity of hospitality Professionals, guests and authorities to engage and indulge in responsible Hospitality & Tourism ??
With the restrictions and economic changes caused due to the Pandemic, there will be an evident changes in the travel trends and choices made by the potential travelers. To start with,initially there will be large growth in the domestic travel, than the earlier years. We all must brace ourselves to not just ride the tides of opportunity. But rather capture this momentum and extend this into a reason of choice in the future. We must evolve to provide a far better experience to extend the potential into a lasting affect of positive change.
In this Gloom created by the COVID-Loom, we have seen some of the most wonderful sights of recuperating Nature. The very thought that nature is healing sets a smile on each one of us. Recently we all have been reading and listening of so many reasons people wish to see a change in . But, nothing will go beyond a mere wish, unless we work towards it as a team. The masses are now far more conscious and aware about Hygiene. But it requires more than that. We need to Sanitize what we practice, deliver and even ask for in the form of services.
We for years have been resilient towards brining change and encouraging the authorities to implement the laws that will help regulate tourism and the hospitality professionals. We all have in one way or the other worked ways around the existing laws to bend rules that make business convenient. Compromising on the responsibility we owe towards the habitat that helps us run this as a business. It is time we realise that regulated and well governed parameters will not just add to better sustainability of the professionals but also make the experience of the guests more cherish able meeting the expected benchmarks. Initial steps may be hard but once the inertia sets in there will be no looking back.
Some of the suggestions which can be implemented by the professional service providers, the authorities and the guests will be baby steps but lasting steps towards a better tomorrow.
- The Hospitality Industry will work towards hygiene, Physical and social distancing norms for obvious reasons. it also requires the authorities to make frequent and stringent checks for this to last. While the resorts and hotels attached to chains of hospitality will have SOPS to follow, we have a much larger cluster of stand alone properties which will need to follow this check list to last in the business.
- Make all tourist areas Eco Sensitive and ensure there is Zero tolerance towards any one flaunting of the rules either by the hospitality professionals or the Guests. Some thoughts to considers are :
- For beginners we must start with a permit allocation for all tourists who plan to visit the Hills on the North of East part of our Country. This will prevent over crowding of the small hill stations that crumble due to this on long weekends and during various periods of vacation .
- Leh is now a Union Territory and better governance can help elevate the standards of tourism in much more easily.
- With Kashmir opening up to more tourism we must maintain the sanity of its beauty by regulating the services form now before it is too late for the authorities to revisit these facilities.
- All public transportation and taxis operating in the hill stations must be only battery operated.
- We need more water harvesting and drinking water facilities set up aggressively in every hill station and tourist area within the country. This will limit the use age of plastic bottles and also encourage the travellers to drink form hygienic sources created for drinking water. Clean drinking water is a basic amenity that the Government must work towards providing.
- Develop more eco friendly, safe, hygenic and comfortable Ecotels like Camps with complete sanitisation and safety rules followed. These factors are missing due to which it discourages a lot of guests form utilising the existing facilities.
- Tourism Tax :All hotels and resorts must Levy a Tourism Tax on every guest, which should be in addition to the accommodation package. This will contribute a revenue that will be used solely for the purpose of developing the infrastructure of the cities that primarily gain for tourism as an industry . This tax should be split and born 50% by the guests and 50% by the Hotel/Resort owners. The government must list out the areas it wishes to improve and share the details of the use age of the revenue earned from this tax collection keeping it transparent. This will allow and help tourism industry to elevate the services .
- Wilf Life Tourism : Is a major attraction for Leisure tourists, the research and travel documentaries being made and does incorporate a large share in the collections of tourism revenue . Which makes it vulnerable to various reasons that encourages a lot of pilferage in gaining money on the side but flaunting the rules. We need to give the wild animals a breather and what better a time to realise this than now. We must reduce the number fo visiting days in an year to a straight 50% form the present numbers or maybe even change them to alternate years of operation with restrictions on permits given for entry. If the tickets to visit the monuments can be hiked and doubled form their existing prices and yet be successful, why can we not make the entrance tickets three times the present cost making this part fo tourism niche and salvage the over crowding in reserved forest area.
This will help increase over all revenue, have better equipment for the rangers to guard and protect the wild life and even put some breaks to the poaching mafia.
- MICE for Corporate Offsite Meetings: Contribute to several different resorts, hotels and even cruises globally. This segment adds to about 40% of the total revenue through put the year in the tourism sector. We must encourage all resorts and hotels to make CSR activities (Corporate Social Responsibility ) a mandatory part of their agenda. Focusing on areas to develop the environment – planning trees , creating water harvesting areas in local villages in an around the resorts, supporting in making portable and safe drinking water units all over as this will not just reduce cost for the travels but also reduce the burden of plastic toxification. Add value to the education institutes in schools and colleges. To the extend that corporates can run small scholarships to encourage rural and small town children, This is being practiced in larger universities but more so for gaining visibility and marketing their products. We need this to become a practice with the right intent on smaller cities which harbour huge potential talent.
- Weddings and Social Events : See some unavailable spends on the celebrations. This requires to be tapped to gain revenue for the right purposes as well. We must implement an entertainment tax used to the welfare of the society but also towards waste management. Another very critical areas that is not being controlled well and is causing a lot of damage to the environment. We need our authorities and hotels to implement this in a structured manner without delay.
Above all, in times for COVID-19, we all have gone through a self realisation of various sorts. It is most important for all of us to hold on to these thoughts and not let go when things start opening up and returning back to normal.
Similarly this is the time we can spend on deliberating the changes that matter and when the time comes we are ready to channelize these thoughts into a new way of life.