Coronavirus is a definite threat to tourism in the country, said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO of Indian Hotels Company, in an interview with CNBC-TV18. However, he added that the ongoing countrywide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the mooted National Register of Citizens (NRC) do not pose much of a concern to the hospitality industry.
On the protests, Chhatwal said: “In any given quarter, something or the other keeps happening all over the world. I have mentioned that on the previous interviews too. So, of course, the Q4 also started with some kind of volatility in the market because of situation with certain colleges and universities and the youth versus whatever we read about in the newspaper and television — that does have an impact on hotel business in general and also, tourism coming into the country in particular."
He revealed that hotel business in Mumbai and Delhi have started 2020 on a strong note. “Some of the key destinations were still very resilient. Mumbai has started off really well. Mumbai is experiencing a very good January. Delhi has also shown excellent growth in volumes.
"However, what has been surprising in this financial year is Goa although our market share in Goa has grown which has helped us maintain that level. Bengaluru continues to be very strong. So, all in all it's a mixed bag. It is very difficult to say what started well, what did not start well but I think we will get a better picture as we enter into February which is a very important month in the fourth quarter.”
On the impact of coronavirus, Chhatwal said: “Coronavirus is definitely a threat to tourism. We have already seen a lot of cancellation coming in in Sri Lanka or in Maldives. Generally, travel would be a bit subdued on an international basis.
"On a domestic front, as yet we have not seen any impact up till now and more than 85 percent of our portfolio is on the Indian sub-continent. So, up till now, it is not but I think we have to be very cautious and take one step at a time as definitely we have all read it has been declared a global health hazard and we all have to be very cautious in making any kind of statements on what kind of impact it will have. I think more important is for the globe is to get this virus under control.”