How has the pandemic-led shutdown affected the hotel industry?
The current situation is extremely unfortunate. We have gone from being very optimistic (in January of what seemed like a wonderful 2020) to an incalculable disaster that seems to have no proper end in sight. This is a situation of survival of the fittest.
You seem overly pessimistic about the hotel industry…
The answer to this is a yes and a no. Yes, because some hotels/ companies may not make it to the other side. The debt burden will simply not allow them to survive, and while we have seen things come to an operational head, the same is yet to happen on the financial end.
The six-month bank moratoriums were helpful to an extent but with no additional government financial aid, some hotel owners may not be able to restructure their loans. That may mean the end of the road for some of them in the short term. I feel bad because other countries in the region have realized that tourism is one of the worst affected and have taken various steps to directly help hotel owners, employees, and also generated demand to encourage domestic travel.
No, because I believe every crisis helps us to learn a few things. Some hotel brands and operators are realising that they can be a lot more efficient. Those hotel companies that will get this right will be able to control costs a lot better and drive better profitability to their owners —which, in turn, will encourage more hotels owners to come up.
Which are the hotel brands that are doing a particularly good job at surviving, then?
I think some brands are doing a better job and others will ultimately play catch up. It would not be diplomatically correct for me to highlight any particular brand. Fortunately, I am not on any of our hotel conferences or the Manav Thadani Hot Seat, where I need to answer every question.
Do you think the government could have done a better job?
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