Leisure to drive revenue this year: IHCL’s Chhatwal – Mint

The leisure segment, which contributed more than 40% to the overall pre-covid revenue of Indian Hotels Co. Ltd (IHCL), will drive revenue growth this fiscal year despite having witnessed severe disruptions because of the pandemic, said the Tata group-owned company, which runs the Taj group of luxury hotels.

About 60% of the FY21 revenue of IHCL, which signed two new hotels in Kolkata and one in Patna, is expected to come from the leisure segment, said its managing director and CEO Puneet Chhatwal. This is because business travel and the corporate segment have taken a big hit as meetings, conferences and trade events are being held virtually, leading to low occupancy in business destinations such as Delhi, he said.

The hospitality industry can get back to pre-covid levels once business travel resumes and the segment witnesses a revival in bookings, he said.

“Business destinations are taking time to pick up, but the hospitality sector has shown an increase in demand in the leisure segment since October-end. If we don’t count the lockdown period, which resulted in complete revenue loss, we achieved 50% of last year’s revenue in Nov across leisure destinations, and our resorts in Goa, Coorg, and Jaipur managed to achieve 70-80% of last year’s revenue. We will cross our last year’s business in Goa when it comes to occupancy and rates,” he said.

The hospitality company, which launched homestay chain Ama Stays and Trails in February 2019, claimed that the properties in Lonavala, Madh Island, Coorg, and Goa were sold out for December. Travellers are preferring holidaying within driving distance and opting for staycations to maintain safety, it said.

“We have also witnessed ‘bleisure’ (combining business and leisure) travel at a good rate though business-related travel is expected to revive fully with the positive development on a covid vaccine. However, we are in a good position because our overall portfolio in the India market is well hedged. Our resort portfolio is the largest in the country, with some of our business destinations such as Chennai serving as a gateway city for leisure travellers to visit smaller destinations,” Chhatwal said.

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