Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd (MHRIL) on Sunday said it plans to first reopen resorts that are at drivable distance from the metro cities once the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
The Mahindra Group firm has currently suspended operations at its resorts in compliance with the government directives.
"At Club Mahindra we have over 255,000 member families and once travel restrictions are relaxed and state borders open up, and people feel comfortable enough to travel again, we expect our members and their families to start travelling to our resorts in their own vehicles, since we are at drivable distances from major cities," MHRIL MD and CEO Kavinder Singh told PTI.
The company is gearing up for this by putting in place all the necessary safety related standard operating procedures (SOPs). It will ensure the highest levels of hygiene standards (hospital grade) to achieve a quick return to normalcy, he added.
"We will first open resorts that are at a drivable distance from the major metro cities," Singh said. He, however did not share the number of resorts that would be opened in the first phase.
The company has over 100 resorts in India and abroad.
Asked about the steps the company is taking to ensure the health and safety of guests and employees at the resorts, Singh said: "In view of the current situation we are implementing various SOPs which will cover hygiene and disinfection norms at all the touch points in our resorts."
The company will ensure social distancing norms for members at its resorts. The resorts are much bigger than traditional hotels, have open spaces and are spread out and this helps in facilitating social distancing norms, he added.
"The entire guest experience right from check in to resort experiences including F&B will be contactless. Our best-in-class experiences will help keep our members and their families engaged, while maintaining the highest safety and hygiene standards," Singh said.
Club Mahindra is partnering with experts in the healthcare and technology spaces for implementing these enhanced safety procedures and contactless services, he added.
Asked about the impact of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown on the hospitality industry, Singh said: "COVID-19 is a true Black Swan event that presents an unprecedented challenge to the hospitality and aviation industries in India and globally. It has deeply impacted the hospitality industry with occupancies declining sharply, as India went into lockdown from March 25."
According to recent estimates, the overall revenue of the Indian hotel industry will decline by about Rs 90,000 crore in 2020, an erosion of 57 per cent compared to last year. More importantly, it is estimated that there will be around 38 million job losses, he said.
On the way forward for the industry, Singh said the sector expects a slow recovery as there will be many strict travel restrictions even as the lockdown begins to get lifted. Domestic travel will begin much faster than international travel, but both will take some time to fully recover.
He further said the industry is expecting support from the government for its survival.
"Most of the hospitality players have debt on their books and industry is hoping for a debt recast and for the moratorium to be extended to 12 months. This would certainly provide much-needed relief," Singh said.
The industry is also hoping for waiver or deferment of statutory payments and minimum electricity demand charges as this will help it with the working capital situation, he added.
"The industry also employs millions of people, so it would be helpful if there is some level of support for them, such as a direct benefit package for the staff who keep the industry running," Singh said.
For the revival of the industry, the annual leave travel allowance (LTA) should be made tax-free, every year, so that people have more money to spend on travel once things get better, he added.
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