Inaugurating the two-day South Asian Hoteliers’ Conclave organised by Hotel Association of India (HAI) in Delhi, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister for Tourism & Culture urged the hotel industry to participate in community initiatives in and around their hotels to gain the trust and recognition of common people. Tourism and hospitality industry has tremendous potential to earn valuable foreign exchange for the country, but that is not enough to gain the recognition, the Minister said. The Minister spoke eloquently on the various measures taken by the government to promote tourism in the country.
In his special address, Vinod Zutshi, Secretary-Tourism, Government of India also raised the concern with regard to the huge disconnect between the employment generation potential of the industry and the actual contribution of the industry to the GDP of the country. While tourism sector accounts for 12.36% of total employment, both direct and indirect, the contribution to the GDP is less than 7%. “This gap of more than 5% is a concern for all of us,” he remarked. Commenting on the various demands of the hotel industry including bringing down the cap on infrastructure funding under the harmonised list, Zutshi said that the Ministry is actively pursuing the matter with Ministry of Finance to get the cap reduced from the current INR 200 crore to INR 50 crore.
Vikram Oberoi, Managing Director and CEO, East India Hotels (The Oberoi Group), who is also the President of HAI, in his welcome address lauded the efforts of the government to see the Goods & Services Tax (GST) implemented. Calling it a historic development, Oberoi said that while GST is expected to boost up the GDP by at least 2%, the tourism sector will also be able to improve its share in the GDP in a big way. He said that India is poised to reap demographic dividends by 2020 as the average age of an India will be the lowest in the world at 29 and 30% of the world’s work force of the world will be in India.
The Hoteliers’ Conclave 2016 had a major focus on disaster management in the wake of increasing natural and man-made disasters in the region. Oberoi said that countries of the South Asia region are prone to number of natural and manmade disasters and the industry stakeholders of the region in sync with the government and other agencies have to evolve a framework to mitigate such disasters jointly. RK Jain, Member of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in his keynote address said that while disasters cannot be prevented, proper preparedness will help businesses to respond to disasters in an effective manner.
Also spoke on the occasion was Rakesh Sarna, MD and CEO, Taj Group of Hotels and the Vice President of HAI. In his short address, Sarna said that the industry should learn to respect the self esteem of the associates. “The culture of servility should go. It will not make us strong,” he said.