“During the time of COVID we all have to come together to figure out how we can take part in the country’s economic recovery,” said Ritesh Agarwal, founder and chief executive of Oyo at a virtual conference. (Source: CNBCTV18)
Softbank-backed hospitality firm Oyo along with online travel agencies such as Yatra, AirBnB and EaseMyTrip have launched an association to look into the issues faced by small hotel owners and promote new formats of tourism in the country trying to recover from the setback of the pandemic.
Christened Confederation of Hospitality Technology and Tourism Industry (CHATT), the industry body will help small and medium hotels and homeowners across India to adopt technology in order to revive their businesses.
“During the time of COVID we all have to come together to figure out how we can take part in the country’s economic recovery,” said Ritesh Agarwal, founder and chief executive of Oyo at a virtual conference.
Stressing upon the need for a one-country one-tourism policy, Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and chief executive of Yatra, said that the last 12-14 months were very bad for the hospitality industry.
“The issues (economic) will get solved only once we start having tourists,” he said, advocating for a uniform policy for travel and tourism across the country.
Acknowledging the concerns, Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State for Culture, Tourism of India, said that travel played a very important role in the overall economic recovery.
“There are new formats of travel that are emerging. Today’s effort will play the role of a movement. Nobody can deny that the country has faced huge losses. However, once tourists start to come back, survival and revival both will start,” he said.
However, he added that it had to be done very cautiously, stating that if they allowed every tourist to roam around freely, the entire government machinery would fail to control the situation during the time of COVID.
Amanpreet Bajaj, general manager AirBnb, India Southeast Asia, HongKong and Taiwan, said that the sector had always believed in the power of authentic travel and this association can help micro entrepreneurs in villages bring their businesses online, “so that sustainable tourism can also take centre stage.”
Interestingly, this comes at a time when online hospitality firms such as Oyo are facing huge criticism from offline hoteliers citing predatory pricing and unethical business practices.
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has also admitted a plea for corporate insolvency proceedings against a subsidiary of Oyo following a complaint from a Gurgaon-based hotelier.
Now, even as the two parties have reached an out-of-court settlement, dozens of other hotel owners have also submitted their claims against the company.
The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) is also intervening in the case on behalf of its member hotels.