2nd HAI Hoteliers' Conclave 2010
2nd HAI Hoteliers' Conclave 2010 was held on August 24-25, 2010, at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi. Aimed at developing a policy perspective on the mega trends that impact the growth of the hotel industry in India. The Conclave was attended by more than 250 hotel industry leaders and top management representatives; key issues discussed included human resource development, infrastructure development, safety and security, taxation and environmental concerns.
The Conclave was inaugurated by the Union Minister for Tourism, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Km Selja. In her inaugural address, Km Selja urged the tourism stakeholders including hotels in India to help change the perception that India is a costly destination. "It must be our joint endeavour to change this perception." She further said that "more than 100 hotels have been opened in the last two years and this would have a positive impact on the demand and supply situation of hotel rooms in the country." Explaining about the various incentives which the Indian government had announced in the last couple of years, especially to bring more investment in the hospitality sector, Km Selja said that the five-year tax holiday announced in 2007-08 budget was an important step in this direction.
Mr. Nakul Anand, President of the Hotel Association of India, made a cutting edge presentation on the Mega Trends that would impact the future of the Industry. The power point presentation in the Inaugural session was packed with thought provoking issues ranging from the proliferation of social websites, re-defining of the word 'luxury' - amongst other trends.
The Union HRD Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, who delivered the Keynote Address during the Conclave Session titled: Demographic Dividend: Great Challenges before Tourism Industry", exhorted the hotel industry to take the initiative in capitalizing on this dividend. He said the Government could only lend a helping hand to the industry in their endeavour to create a pool of trained manpower for fulfilling the needs of the hospitality sector.
A unique feature of this year's Conclave was the participation of delegates from SAARC countries. Representatives of the Hotel Associations of Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan deliberated with their Indian counterparts on 'Building Translational Partnerships' among the SAARC member countries. To mark 2010 as the SAARC Tourism year, the Hotel Association of India accorded the status of special guests to delegates from the SAARC countries. This interaction would surely result in continued co-operation among the members to their mutual benefit, and would contribute to the promotion of tourism in their respective countries.
The Session "Lest We Forget? brought the House on its feet to applaud the gallantry demonstrated by the NSG commandos and the hotel staff members in rescuing guests trapped in Mumbai's two iconic hotels ?Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident ?when they were attacked by terrorists on 26/11. Mr J K Dutt, former Director-General of the NSG, in his Presentation gave a graphic description of how the rescue operation was mounted and the terrorists were "neutralized".
This Session will long be remembered for the moving ceremony at which three nominees each of the two targeted hotels of Mumbai who at grave personal risk ?braving the bullets of the terrorists and sustaining serious injuries, but successfully moving out the guests to safety ?were called to the Dias and presented with HAI Plaques for their heroic action by Mr R.H. Khwaja, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism. As their individual Citations were read out by the Moderator Mr N. Chawla in precise and somber tones, delegates had misty eyes. Other sessions at the Conclave included "Emerging Trends in Hotel Design"; "Understanding Goods & Services Tax"; "Celebrating Cuisine" and "Redefining the Customer Experience" among others.
Another highlight of the Conclave this year was the launching of the "HAI Anthem". Professionally sung, the anthem is a tribute to the Indian Hotel Industry which has overcome several recent adversities starting with the global meltdown towards the end of 2008 to H1N1 flu which assumed endemic proportions, and the horrendous 26/11 terror attacks. All of these led to widespread cancellations of hotel bookings. The Conclave delegates joined in the singing of the Anthem that expresses the aspirations of the Industry as it surges ahead looking at achieving new heights, without being bogged down in its quest for excellence in service and living up to the age-old Indian tradition of "Athithi Devo Bhava". Each delegate to the Conclave was presented a CD of the anthem.
For glimpses of the Conclave