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FHRAI reaches out to the Prime Minister seeking a special relief package for the hospitality industry, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld

 Picture used for representational purposes.
Picture used for representational purposes.

The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) has submitted a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for a sector-specific special relief package. Seeking support, the ailing hospitality industry of the country, the apex body of the hotels and restaurants said highlighted the dismal performance of the sector during the first two waves of the pandemic and the possible impact the third wave is causing in addition to several curbs and restriction placed by the state governments.

In the letter, which is copied to Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, and Union Tourism Minister, G Kishan Reddy, FHRAI stated that the Indian hospitality industry has reported losses of a whopping sum of INR 1.40 lakh crores, and around 50 million jobs were lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President of FHRAI mentioned further mentioned that as per industry estimate, the financial losses to the industry from these two waves were so severe that around 30 per cent of hotels & restaurants in the country were shut down permanently and the remaining establishments continue to run in losses even today.

“The successive waves and continued disruptions have created a volatile economic environment in the sector making survival the key focus. Being a highly capital-intensive industry, the hospitality sector has to manage a lot of overhead expenses even while it is not functioning. By availing of the credit facility provided by the Government as part of the relief packages and also by infusing its own capital, the sector tried hard to tide over the crisis and stay afloat. Taking due cognizance of the unparalleled situation in the tourism & hospitality sector as the ‘most distressed sector due to Covid -19’, kindly provide a sector-specific special relief package and enable the sector to survive,” Kohli requested the PM for support.

The association’s office bearers and EC interacted and expressed their views with the Ministry of Finance during a virtual pre-budget meeting and later shared its recommendations and expectations from the Union Budget 2022-23.

He further mentioned that the industry was looking forward to the present wedding cum new year season for some damage control of the colossal losses, but the sudden surge in Covid cases due to the Omicron variant and subsequent restrictions and closures have shattered all hopes of recovery for now. “The restrictions imposed presently are akin to a lockdown and the business in hotels and restaurants are less than 10 per cent in all major locations. Every time the situation eases a bit, there seems to be some hope of getting the business back on track. But the stop-start-stop arrangement hasn’t allowed the hotel industry to have a continuous run,” he said.

Looking at the present situation, Kohli predicted that it will manyfold the extensive damage and
it would take nothing less than five years for the industry to return to the pre-pandemic levels. “Presently, there is a considerable amount of fear and anxiety in the sector. Significant capital has been ploughed in by the industry to reopen and restart operations. Also, there has been a lot of effort put in to bring back workers. We want to request a kind and urgent intervention from the Prime Minister of India in this matter. Without adequate support from the government, many more hospitality establishments in the country would be compelled to shut shop,” he added.

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