For the past few years, RARE India has been hosting THE Rare Showcase, a mega event that brings together the finest palace stays, boutique hotels, wildlife lodges, homestays, and retreats of India— all under one roof. This year, the event was to be held at The Imperial in New Delhi on April 17 and 18. However, the show did not go as planned. Since February, the world was battling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been upending industries and lives of many around the world.
This crisis has not dampened the enthusiasm of RARE India. Its founder Shoba Mohan is optimistic that the industry will bounce back. “These are challenging times. It has been really difficult to see a healthy season slip into nothing within a matter of days. That said the hotels are working together preparing for better days, being responsible and helping guests who need to fly out of the country, sharing advice and giving support,” she said.
Mohan also voiced concerns about companies lacking financial backup. “Many small companies across the world talk about laying off staff within a month of the crisis. This is one area of concern for me and to be looked into as business revives,” she added.
The learnings during COVID-19 have been massive. Many in the industry explored digital platforms. They experimented on webinars, web meetings, social media, online branding, etc.
For Mohan, this was the time to strengthen business relationships.
“COVID-19 is a pandemic which has put people in their homes in their own countries. During this time, we’ve learned the importance of flexibility, the strength of business relationships, and the damaging impact of unrestrained and unverified media forwards. Certain occurrences are beyond our control. This global problem has made us rework on cancellation parameters, relook at booking terms, and revisit our business vision. We are keeping our spirits high and finding innovative ways to stay relevant during this time,” she said.
Need for government support
According to Mohan, the government must recognize the needs of tourism and hospitality businesses. “We can really benefit from extended tax exemptions. The government needs to help the industry with interest-free loans so that when the revival happens, it will help with better access to funding, marketing, and promotions. Also, the government must help tour operators with perks and incentives for promoting India through awards and recognition for innovations and helping our associations promote new norms to cushion the industry against such emergencies,” she said.
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