Competent, compassionate, and charitable— these are the three key qualities that describe Manish Sharma, Founder & Chairman of Akshar Travels, a tourism company that does about Rs.80 crore outbound a year from Gujarat alone.
When tourism came to a halt in March due to COVID-19 lockdown, Sharma did not lay off employees or cut down their salaries. Over the years, he had built a strong team— a team that stood for courage, kindness, and excellence. When COVID-19 struck in India, the team at Akshar Travels did not fret about losing the big money they are so used to making every year. They never complained about the lockdown. They did not crib about the pandemic.
Instead. together, they decided to do something remarkable. Under Sharma’s guidance, they helped the state government transfer about 2.40 lakh migrant workers from Gujarat to the rest of India in trains.
It was a strenuous exercise. “But we to help these migrant workers get back to their families. We approached the government and told them we would undertake this process on an honorary basis,” explained Sharma, who spearheaded the Herculean task.
Akshar Travels, which has 157 employees and 40 telephone lines, was the best thing that could happen to the migrant workers at the time. Each team member worked on a 9-hour shift to address the needs of these migrants. The paperwork was completed on the phone.
“We sent out forms to the migrant workers via Whatsapp to gather their details. The completed forms were sent to the governments of the respective migrant’s state for verification. Trains were arranged. Two days of food, water, and other essentials were provided to these migrants. They reached home safe,” said Sharma.
This process took about 11 days.
At a time when travel companies were thinking of cutting costs, Akshar went the extra mile to prove that value for humanity pales in comparison to currency notes.
“Our company can make money anytime. But when the country is in lockdown, I believe we should personally rise to the occasion to help people. That’s what I believe in, and that’s what my company believes in,” said Sharma.
On the status of the current tourism scenario, Sharma said it is not just the tourism industry that’s in a bad state.
“This is a global pandemic. Every industry is affected. But we will all overcome this together. If there is darkness, there will also be light. Sunsets are always followed by sunrise. Let’s hope for the better and wait for the sun to rise in the tourism industry,” concluded Sharma.