Opinion by Gaurav Apte, general manager, Goa Marriott Resort and Spa

The unexpected and immense shock to the tourism sector resulting from the pandemic has adversely impacted the economy worldwide.

Across India, many hotels, resorts, restaurants, business hubs and small local industries have still shut their doors to travellers due to the rising Covid -19 cases and also, in order to abide by the measures issued by the government.

Cancellation of flights, tours, business and social events, hotel reservations and the resultant decline in inbound travel, hotel occupancy rates and average room rates have dropped sharply causing an unprecedented decline in tourism and hospitality profit margins.

Dependency on tourism

Unlike other sectors, tourism will take longer to recover, especially leisure tourism. Several Indian states including Goa extensively depend on tourism as a source of state revenue.

With unlock 4 in the state of Goa, one can hope for some respite as borders have opened up and regulations have been relaxed. We look forward to the next normal.

Guests and customers are already demonstrating a preference for companies/brands that deliver a great experience while reducing risks all along the customer journey.

The travel and tourism industry is resilient, and the long-term viability is strong. I am confident the demand for travel will bounce back strongly in time.

Solidarity amid crisis

Nevertheless, the grave situation has given space for worldwide solidarity with hotels providing their premises to house medical staff, first responders, or those not suffering from coronavirus.

One good thing emerging from this crisis is the respite and healing that we see in nature. Though the pandemic has created a scare all over the globe, travellers are gaining confidence to explore again. It is heartening to see that people are choosing to reschedule plans rather than cancelling their visits.

Safety is the top priority

We should, therefore, continue to place the safety of our guests and locals above all. This is the right time for the tourism and hospitality industry to develop a common safety and sanitisation standard for hosting and serving its customers.

The industry must also utilise this opportunity to adopt ecological waste disposal practices and environment-friendly day to day rituals.

Goa Marriott Resort and Spa has implemented Marriott International’s Commitment to Clean initiative that aims to provide guests with a safe environment that aligns with expert protocols.

Taking the current scenario into account, various brands have called for repackaging their hotel services. They are focusing on contactless facilities and are introducing competitive value-added stay package for guests. We do believe that guests will initially opt for destinations that are at a driving distance and Goa is blessed in the way of its connectivity to major metro cities.

Keeping this in mind, we have rolled out special staycation offers for guests. These offers will help guests customise their stays and choose the inclusions they want to, ensuring there is more than enough to enjoy at the hotel when they check-in and that they don’t have to worry about stepping out.