As the hospitality sector reels through the coronavirus crisis, Hotel Association of India’s (HAI) Vice President K.B. Kachru has said that if immediate measures are not taken to support the sector, around 3.5-4 crore employees in India’s hospitality sector may lose their jobs.
Speaking to IANS, Kachru said that as the industry is not earning at all right now, a deferment of statutory liabilities including EMIs for around 12 months is the need of the hour.
He also said that the sector may witness a revenue fall of around Rs 5 lakh crore in the financial year 2020-21.
“It couldn’t be worse, this particular vertical which creates almost 9 percent employment of the country and accounts for over 9 percent of the GDP. We are basically at zero at the moment. So we have been badly affected,” he said.
“Nobody imagined this, it’s an unprecedented thing. In India, there are almost three and a half to four crore jobs at stake. We are expecting close to Rs 5 lakh crore in revenue loss in this fiscal.”
Talking to IANS, the industry veteran said that it is not a matter of revival as of now, the sector is finding ways to survive amid the coronavirus crisis.
“We have been saying there is one issue with all of us, and we want to survive before we can think of reviving ourselves,” Kachru said.
He stressed that the industry is not seeking a waiver of any liabilities or dues, it just wants them to be deferred until the time the cash flow in the industry improves.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the industry body has outlined the impact of the coronavirus crisis and the possible aftermath and has sought relief for the sector, including the deferment of all statutory liabilities including EMIs to a minimum of 12 months at center, state and municipal levels.
It has also urged the government to subsidize employment for three months by government contribution per employee of 50 percent of the salary.
HAI has also suggested that lease, license, rentals and excise fees as well as property taxes to be suspended effective March 11 till the end of the COVID-19 period and has sought permission to enable the sector players to use the GST collected as working capital for six months.
Further, as the operations are curtailed, it has asked for the utility costs including electricity bills to be charged on an actual basis rather than the load.
On the support offered by hotels in terms of quarantine facilities for the frontline healthcare workers and other initiatives, Kachru who is also the Chairman Emeritus and Principal Advisor of South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, also said the sector is providing such support for the national cause and will continue to do so in times of need.
Talking of the gravity of the financial situation in the sector, the sector said: “We were the first to be affected and probably we will be the last to come out of this.”