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invited experienced professionals from different fields to talk us through the challenges ahead as also offer
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and more in our new weekly column – THE PERFECT VIEW
NISHIRAJ A BARUAH
Okay, yes, I, at Homestay by the Tea Garden Dibrugarh, haven’t earned much all through this Lockdown locust storm. I have had to return sizeable amounts of money for all the cancellations I suffered from my guests. But I’m not down and won’t be.
I don’t really buy these doomsday prophecies about the travel and tour and hospitality industry going down. Yes, we are all hit, but for a short while.
People are in chains now in their houses and the first chance they get they will run wild, to the great outdoors. You just can’t stop the natural human instinct to travel and explore — ever since Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus and even before that. Interestingly, I am already getting enquiries from people for bookings for our Goa and Dibrugarh Homestays.
I see that spirit more in the 20-40 plus age group who are already planning their travels for a post lockdown world. I myself is taking my personal boat for a three-day Brahmaputra river trip to experience the great water world out there.
However, I see a decline in travel by the 50 plus age group — whether for business or holiday. They make for a great chunk of the travel market. They will be the ones who would exercise restraint for health reasons — they would not want to take the risk.
The hospitality industry can work on ways to attract them, but then their absence will be amply compensated by a whole new generation and segment of travellers.
Travellers will also be looking for hotels which are not in congested localities. They will feel safer to stay at a property where there are minimal human interaction, located in secluded areas and posh neighbourhoods. So homestays and boutique properties may grow very well.
The standards of hygiene will improve for sure. And contactless travel will be the way to go.
My optimism is based on other grounds: Being a homestay with only six designer rooms, our overheads cost are less and so is on maintenance.
Two, people need to get back to business at the soonest and I see a lot of movement for business travellers.
Third, even if they don’t come, here in tea town Dibrugarh (Assam) I have a large local market — people coming from nearby districts for shopping, medical, weddings and celebrations. People have been delaying these for a very long time.
And yes, I also plan to make my homestay couple-friendly, even for within-town residents. Dibrugarh being in a green zone, they are the safest human beings for now. The unmarried couple market is huge and I feel I am not doing anything dubious by allowing them in anymore.
So yes, lockdown over and I shall be back in business, given the calls I am already receiving…. And so will be everyone in the hospitality sector. So stop being paranoid, please. We shall all do good!
Baruah is owner, Homestay by the Tea Garden Dibrugarh, Assam
He can be contacted on 09899997370