Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
Odisha’s hospitality sector, particularly hotels and resorts in the coastal areas of the state have suffered severe damage as a result of Cyclone Phallin. JK Mohanty, chairman, Odisha Hotel Association informed that following the directives of the government, hoteliers had vacated all their beach properties as a result of which many lives were saved. Mohanty, who is also the CMD of Swosti Group of Hotels, mentioned that his properties had to witness large scale cancellation of conference bookings due to the panic factor.
The government support that hoteliers are looking at are – active promotion in the domestic market; soft loan to hotels and the industry to refurnish properties which have been affected; banks should extend term loan payment period by two quarters. Pointing out that a fool-proof system of business has to be developed to save the industry from the after-impact of natural calamities, Harihar Patra, director-Marketing, Toshali Resorts International said, “Every businessman associated with travel and hospitality sector should develop their business model such as hotel construction, operations, marketing, etc, so that even if natural calamities of severe scale occur they make themselves insulated financially without great losses.”
The tourism season that starts with Durga Puja has been badly affected. “Massive evacuation by the state government, disconnectivity by air and rail services and excessive media publicity on damages before and after the cyclone has created a panic among travellers who generally visit Puri and other destinations in huge numbers during the festival seasons of October and November. Visitors will either postpone their travel to the eastern region or look for some other destinations,” stated Patra. He mentioned that a lot of preparatory work by hoteliers and travel operators who were eyeing for the upcoming season has got disturbed, “Now cash-flow into the sector will squeeze which will adversely affect the earning and employment of all those people and their families associated with tourism business.”