Hoteliers say travelers are back with a vengeance but staff are limited

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As travel demand continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the global tourism economy is expected to grow by 5%, twice the growth rate of the global economy, the Tourism Secretary said on Thursday. , Arvind Singh. He said, however, that attrition is a reality in the industry.

Lemon Tree Hotels general manager Patu Keswani also said the attractiveness of the industry has diminished for employees. “We tried to hire employees but found it difficult,” he told CNBC-TV18.

His hotel had 9,000 employees before the pandemic and the number has fallen to 4,000-4,500 as many of those who left their jobs during COVID-19 left the profession altogether. However, he said that although productivity has improved by around 65% currently, he expects employment to decline in the future.

Digitalization is the future, and India is at the forefront and labor streamlining changes in the business model will have to take place, Keswani said.

Bharat Hotels Chairman and Managing Director Jyotsna Suri believes a big rationalization is underway in the workforce, but it won’t be able to reach pre-pandemic levels. “Inventory, revenue management as well as labor streamlining are happening in a big way,” she said.

Experts also pointed out that everyone who joins the sector is familiarized with the Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redress) Act 2013 (POSH Act) as part of the induction.

The general manager of Lemon Tree Hotels pointed out that inflation in the hotel space is double that of other spaces.

He said the next few years would see mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and focus on raising capital.

He said Lemon Tree had built nearly 6,000 rooms over the past few years, but the whole debt structure in India makes it difficult to build a hotel on a stand-alone basis.

“The Ministry of Tourism also wants international customers to stay in high-end hotels, for which there is a shortage of rooms,” he explained.

Keswani says the hospitality industry cannot become a $600 billion industry in the next 10 years without addressing the weakest links like access to finance. Nearly 20-30% of hospitality industry equity has been lost in the past two years, although the sector is seeing consolidation in the brand space

Commenting on the request, the Tourism Secretary said: “If we have a strong middle class, domestic and international tourism will grow.”

Suri of Bharat Hotels said: “We are a very resilient industry, it will come out of this crisis organically. The 2nd phase of the ECLG program was much more useful.

She said demand was undoubtedly growing, so little support on certain issues will see the industry out of the situation. She pointed out that balance sheets are stretched and the industry needs to stand up and consolidate before thinking about borrowing money, as interest rates are so high.

“Tier 2 and 3 cities were the first to bounce back,” she noted.

Ranju Alex, Regional Vice President – South Asia, Marriott International, also confirmed the trend in the domestic market. She added that Marriott plans to open more than 200 hotels by 2025, targeting 15 to 20 hotels each year.

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