How has Covid affected Hospitality Sector?
The scale of the current crisis has brought the global economy to a grinding halt. The hotel industry has quickly scrambled to create a new “contactless” service design to be relevant in the present times. It has done so by putting many appropriate COVID-centric social distancing systems in place. It is an opportune time for the industry to re-examine and explore opportunities to make its service design resource and cost-efficient.
To begin with, businesses must apply the lessons learned from the crisis to ensure that their systems are more resilient and their products, processes and business models more sustainable and resource-efficient to prevent future shocks. Its management leadership has a pivotal role to play as the engine of growth and development of local economies. Social stability and economic stability ultimately go hand-in-hand. A business will be successful when societies are successful and vice versa.
Impact of Climate Crisis
While we are dealing with the aftermath of COVID, we should not forget the climate crisis, which is creeping on us. It will have a much larger impact on the economy when compared to the present health crisis.
As early as the 1990s, several pandemic scenarios were forecasted only to be ignored as a sci-fi movie. While we have innumerable tools like GRI (Global Reporting Initiatives), CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) and Earth Over Shoot day, their impact in slowing the growth of consumerism and hence natural resource exploitation falls dramatically short. Concepts such as green economy, ramping up the use of renewable energy and R&D on energy storage technologies is the need of the hour.
Making rainwater harvesting mandatory, adopting eco-tourism practices to reduce the negative footprint of tourism and blend social issues like vocational training of orphan boys for suitable hotel operations. Today, due to changes in the law, many of the above practices are mandatory, but being performed reluctantly with uneven results.
Nature and Social Distancing
It is often said that crisis comes with immense opportunities. It is good to see the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), an umbrella body representing the issues of the tourism sector, work collaboratively on the policy front with the Government of India to protect millions of jobs.
FAITH, together with various business associations must request the Government of Indi to pursue radical policy initiatives to address the interlinked issues of public health, climate emergency, water stress and food security so that businesses in the future have a built-in resilience to withstand future mega shocks like Covid-19.
Our Water management policies need a drastic change immediately. Water is a limiting factor for the hotel business and with a looming climate crisis, we can always expect monsoons to be erratic.
Food Waste policies need to be written and implemented for better sustainability. The FSSAI has a draconian policy on food safety, which discourages hotels from giving away their leftover food to needy NGOs. If there is a case of food poisoning, the hotel or restaurant staff can go behind bars in a non-bailable offence. The act should be changed to protect hotels and restaurants from criminal liability should the food donated in good faith cause any harm to the recipient. Besides, food waste reduction will lead to lesser emissions.
All tourist destinations must be checked for carrying capacity, along with new places that opened. The destinations should be closed after the limit is reached.
Agriculture can be regenerated as migrants have now returned to their villages. Best farming practices can be introduced with the help of the Government to increase productivity. Cow Manure can be used as Bio Gas which can be used for transportation fuel, conversion of Carbon Dioxide to dry ice production etc will help increasing the farmers income
The opportunities available in a post-COVID era are vast. The hospitality sector must display a higher purpose for survival/revival and look at its business practices with a new Resource Regeneration Plan
Can the Industry embrace the principles of a green economy? Can it help enhance water management strategies by putting water harvesting systems in place and rise to these and other challenges?
Albert Einstein Once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun”.