The Chairman of HRAO observes that it is the right time for the government to prepare a short-term and long-term plan for the next 2-4 years for investment in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Calling hospitality and tourism a sector which can become the ‘driving force’ of the country’s economy after the pandemic situation normalises, JK Mohanty, Chairman of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO), has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging the government to work proactively to rescue the tourism sector.
Mohanty observes that it is the right time for the government to prepare a short-term and long-term plan for the next 2-4 years for investment in the tourism and hospitality sector, as he says, “The private sector is more than capable of extending its expertise but long-term funding at cheaper rate of interest is required to build the sector. The private sector will definitely invest in hospitality and tourism sector if the government considers -soft loans, long term financing, infrastructure status, availability of land at special rate, single window clearance as hotels require more than 32 clearances from various departments, capital investment subsidies both from central and state governments to attract huge investment from the private sector.”
Talking about the cascading effect of the benefits that various other sectors can reap from the tourism and hospitality sectors, Mohanty notes, “Tourism is an employment generator and the benefits can also be reaped by various other industries, like the agricultural sector, communication sector, health sector transportation sector, handloom and handicraft sectors.” Mohanty notes that this is precisely the reason why many countries have increased their investment in the tourism industry and introduced several campaigns and strategies for the sector.
Reiterating the demand for some fringe benefits that several travel trade and hospitality associations in the past few months have been demanding from the government, Mohanty, who is also the IATO Chairman for the eastern Region and the co-chairman of FICCI National tourism Committee, calls for liberal policies, relaxation in taxes and comprehensive package to attract more tourists and foreign investment. He adds, “We, the hospitality industry, despite this pandemic situation, are still hopeful that the central govt will definitely realise and consider the importance of the impact of tourism in global industry and will take every possible step to grow the tourism sector and survival of the tourism and hospitality industry in this pandemic situation. If the tourism and hospitality sector is not taken on priority now, it will definitely be a great loss of an opportunity.”
Mohanty in his letter mentions how India has been lagging behind countries like Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, which have been attracting a sizable number of tourists from Europe, USA and other continents. Blaming the poor infrastructure in the tourism sector for this loss, Mohanty explains the importance of using this Covid downtime to develop infrastructure so that India can find its rightful place in the sun. Enlisting the diverse portfolio of niche tourism products that the country has to offer, Mohanty points out that India with its vast tourism potential in terms of art, craft, culture, cuisine, beaches, lakes, mountains, tribes, temple architecture, heritage, eco-tourism destinations and mangrove forests is well on its way to become the most preferred tourism destination in the world. But for us to realise this tourism dream for India, Mohanty says that a revolutionary effort is needed from the government to build tourism infrastructure.
He says that a little proactive involvement of the central government in close coordination with state governments can help make tourism the driving force of the Indian economy as well as the largest employment generator and foreign exchange earner for the country.