OdishaPlus Bureau

Senior hospitality industry leaders from across the country discussed the implications of the disruption caused by the COVID 19 pandemic and the road ahead for the tourism and hospitality sectors, here recently. There was an underlying consensus, at a webinar titled ‘Tourism Insight and Strategies to the Covid-19 Crisis’ organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on the need for visible and proactive government support on financial and policy matters to enable businesses to manage the disruption and safeguard them from the side-effects of the unprecedented crisis. Industry stakeholders concurred on a possible change in consumer behaviour, post the COVID-19, wherein sparsely populated destinations were going to preferred by tourists, and Odisha was at the forefront of capitalizing on such a shift.



State Tourism and Culture minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi suggested that Odisha needed a two-pronged approach, equally focussing on revival and growth plan. “The focus would be on domestic tourism and increasing footfalls from the neighboring states. Once the road traffic is operationalized, we could focus on family and road-based tourism,” he said and added that tourism needed to factor in social distancing and other precautionary measures as mandated to ensure health and well-being. He said the State government was spending significant sums on welfare measures to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the lives and livelihood of the people and reiterated the government’s commitment toward the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Swosti Group CMD JK Mohanty mooted releasing the additional funds available with PSUs to tide over the crisis and address the liquidity crunch staring at the industry. He expressed concern on the health of the sector, advocating a systematic government intervention to safeguard employment and suggested a pay-cut or loss of jobs for those associated with the industry, was certain without clarity on revival plans. He asked for extending the moratorium on loans to a year and forgoing interest on loans for at least six months and listed out the continuity of businesses as the most critical challenge.

Founder and CEO, BITB Conclaves Navin Berry moderated the webinar and highlighted the importance of going local and wondered if the pandemic had emerged as the “anti-thesis” to globalization. Executive Director, Mayfair Hotels and Resorts Limited Soubhagya Mohapatra highlighted how the industry was the first to be impacted by the government advisory, restricting air and rail travel, also stressing that it was going to be the last sector to recover from the development. The government’s standard operating procedures and every detailing on tackling the issue was going to invariably dictate the sector’s road to recovery, he believed.

Suresh Nair, General Manager, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, AirAsia Group, hoped that the airline would operate on half its capacity by mid-June, sharing that the low-cost carrier had very recently resumed domestic flights in Malaysia and Thailand. “Therefore, it is a question of when rather than how,” he said. InterGlobe Hotels President and CEO J B Singh complimented the state for its stable and consistent policymaking, which had placed Odisha as an attractive destination for investment. Over 500 delegates attended the webinar.