Speaking at an industry webinar, Aditya Thackeray, Tourism Minister of Maharashtra, said that he is keen that Maharashtra will be the first to declare and deliver something for the hotel industry. “We have to take the state of Maharashtra ahead, pitch it to the world. We have to revive very quickly, take the sector ahead and figure out how we can work with the other sectors. A task force has been set up, we can work in sync, understand what is doable in the medium-term and long-term.”
While interfacing with the Minister, Jimmy Mistry, CMD & Principal Designer, Della Group, shared some critical issues faced by the hotel and restaurant industry. “We were not able to pay salaries, there are reports that some hotels and restaurants are laying off 30-50 per cent of their staff, which is a difficult situation to deal with for people like us who are close to our teams. When we go to bankers for a restructure, we are not sure about certain aspects like electricity charges for instance. We don't know what lies ahead during the next six months. Bankers want us to mention the monthly burn envisaged and we don’t have any details. If we can sustain the darkest era, we can survive the next 6 months and for that, we need maximum leverage; with you as our leader, we are quite hopeful,” he said.
Responding to Jimmy’s submissions, Thackeray advised the preparation of two documents; one for the industry’s sustenance plus revival and one for driving its growth after that. “This is something we have to do together, make a massive effort to get the industry back on track. Our hotel sector is one of the best in the world, there is no comparison on warmth and service. We want to develop Maharashtra as a tourism positive state. We can get people across the world to come to us and stay in our hotels. We need travellers who will spend at least 36 hours in the city they visit,” he opined.
“Safe travel will be important; we need to be transparent in our numbers the way we have so far. The way 9/11 changed travel, COVID-19 will do the same. We will have to adjust, spaces are small in Mumbai and Maharashtra, so how do we move ahead? Let's put together a group and move ahead unitedly as a team,” he affirmed.
The Minister pointed out that most of the countries are in lockdown, those who had opened up and lifted restrictions had to close down again. “I have been interacting with doctors around the world and foundations globally. How do we live with Corona? Will it allow us to live with it? COVID-19 is something no-one has seen before in history. The entire world is witnessing lockdowns for an indefinite period. We are facing an invisible enemy;MahM we don't know the timeline. We are waiting for a defining moment when a scientist says he's found a cure. Would the travel and tourism industry sustain till that moment?”
“There is nothing for it in the package from the Centre. The only reason we haven't declared any package as the state of Maharashtra is that we are fighting from the forefront. This is a battle that will be long drawn. The questions we face are when do we exit from the lockdown, how do we exit and would things revive?” he said, while appreciating the fact that almost every hotel and restaurant in Maharashtra has helped the state government to house doctors and frontline healthcare workers.