#Travelsafe: Vaccination fuels wanderlust
Last summer was all about a gloomy holiday season of travel restrictions, quarantine rules and pictures with a heavy dose of nostalgia of past leisure trips. This year, it’s time to act upon our deeply seated urges to travel while keeping our minds at ease knowing that the hotels we chose to stay at have got their staff vaccinated. Phew, what a relief! Isn’t it. The hospitality industry is gearing up for what it hopes will be a busy summer tourist season, thanks to their efforts to get their staff vaccinated and properties COVID-free as far as possible.
With travel restrictions gradually easing around and most of us being jabbed, the hoteliers are expecting the current trickle of visitors to increase exponentially in the coming weeks.
Rahul Joshi, General Manager, Taj Hotel & Convention Centre, Agra, says, “As a part of Tajness - A Commitment Restrengthened, IHCL hotels have undertaken a host of initiatives that reflect our commitment to assuring a seamless and a safe experience for our patrons.”
He adds, “We are glad to share that all our staff members are vaccinated against Covid. While the complete inoculation of our hotel employees has largely shielded them from the virus, the vaccination drive has also spurred confidence among our guests. It has been reflected in bookings and queries the hotel has been receiving since the unlock was announced.”
Vinit Chhabra, GM The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg, chips in, “We are hopeful of picking up more as unlocking takes place. With regards to vaccinations, all our staff have received the 1st dose and 50% have also completed the 2nd dose. We expect all to be fully vaccinated by the 1st week of July.”
Hotels are strongly investing in a safe stay for their guests, from disinfection to glass protection at the reception desk, more staff for serving food and digitalised registration and payments.
India is committed to finding paths to make Covid-19 vaccines easily accessible, but hotels have gone a step ahead and have fully underwritten the cost of administering the vaccines for all their team members. Kush Kapoor, CEO, Roseate Hotels & Resort says, “In continuation to our endeavor to offer a safe experience to the guests, we have got 100% of our staff vaccinated. We encourage a safe and healthy working environment for our employees and thank them for their continuous support during these times.”
With hills being a major draw for urban dwellers, as it provides much needed respite from the heat, the hotels up there are expecting a steady foot fall in the next few months.
“Ladakh traditionally is a summer favourite and the season goes up to October.All staff at the hotel have been vaccinated. We have been receiving queries for June and July and also for August. However, at present we are running 50% room inventory due to COVID protocols being followed in Ladakh,” says Danish Din, Director, The Grand Dragon Hotel, Ladakh.
Vaccination is a social responsibility. Getting vaccinated protects the individual but it also protects the community. “We understand that these are not normal situations. Therefore, as responsible citizens of India, it is our duty to get vaccinated. The Club Mahindra ‘SafeStay’ Program and Travel With Confidence initiative is our commitment towards the welfare of our people”, says Priyanka Gidwani, CHRO at Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited.
- Increased demand
With the pandemic fatigue set in, people are willing to travel around the country. Nazir Rah, Managing Director, Rah Bagh, Srinagar, “We have seen a good movement for rooms from mid-June onwards and the business is picking up for July too. August will bring in long weekends and we are hopeful that things will begin to look up by then. We’ve also taken the necessary steps to ensure that all staff have received the 1st shot of the vaccine and will be fully vaccinated once they receive the 2nd dose in the coming weeks.”
- Restrictive international travel
Multiple countries have stopped travel from India or imposed expensive quarantines amid the country’s harsh second Covid wave, hence the demand for travel within India is set to rise. “Initiatives to vaccinate staff have unequivocally resulted in higher bookings since unlock 2.0 and weekend staycations will continue to rule the roost till international travel opens up,” adds Kapoor.
- Responsibility is key
With people willing to take the plunge, it is important that hospitality staff and its workers step up to the challenge posed by Covid-19. Going a step ahead, “We have installed non-invasive thermal screening at all entry points for our guests and associates, the hotel mandates the use of masks and other protective equipment, and by all our associates, teams are extensively trained on hygiene and physical distancing norms,” says Joshi.