The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all sectors but the tourism and hospitality industry was the worst hit. The folk arts and artistes also had to face immense losses during the pandemic. As heritage hotels are recuperating as important tourist destinations across the country, they must also proactively promote and preserve the local art and culture around them. The way of life of the local communities, their handicrafts, modes of livelihood,the crops they grow, their traditional ways of entertainment and leisure should be part of the experiences the heritage hotels give tourists. This was stated by the Governor of Rajasthan, Mr. Kalraj Mishra today at the inaugural session of the 9th Annual Convention of the Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) at Alila Fort Bishangarh where he was the Chief Guest.
The Governor also reminisced about the Former Rajasthan Chief Minister, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s efforts in the development of tourism and conservation of heritage in the state. He further said that with a mélange of magnificent forts, palaces and castles, Rajasthan has immense possibilities for tourism. Along with popular tourist spots, the lesser known destinations and monuments of the State should also be highlighted. The heritage properties of Rajasthan also give a glimpse into the traditional art, paintings and murals of the State.
The Former Governor of Punjab, Mr. VP Singh Badnore said that Rajasthan is the first state to declare Tourism as an Industry and this will give a big boost to employment in the state. This will also aid the hoteliers, tour guides, and restaurateurs etc. who suffered a catastrophic blow in the pandemic. He further stressed on the need to preserve not just the tangible heritage assets such as buildings, monuments etc but also the intangible heritage assets like folklore, culture, among others. He also laid emphasis on the need to concentrate on cleanliness in a big way.
Former Deputy Speaker, Government of Rajasthan and Owner of Alila Fort, Bishangarh, Rao Rajendra Singh of Shahpura said that as per the World Travel and Tourism Council Report, in 2019 the hotel and tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy was worth INR 15 trillion. During the covid-19 pandemic, there was a 40% fall and it dropped to INR 9 trillion. Now in 2022, the industry has surpassed pre-covid levels and now stands at INR 15.9 trillion. Highlighting the importance of employment the sector provides, he said that every year it gives 2.4 million jobs. The sector is also gender neutral and provides employment to many women, he added.
President of Honour (Emeritus), IHHA, Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur said that heritage plays a significant role in reminding people of the social values of the ancestors. Every state has its own unique heritage which needs to be protected. There is a need to focus on new initiatives and sustainable models of tourism, he added.
Conference Chairman and Vice President, IHHA, Mr. Steve Borgia introduced the theme of the convention – ‘Reincarnation of IHHA to Conserve and Protect Indian Heritage’. He said that the world is eagerly looking for a different ‘India’ and there is a need to think and do differently and strengthen our destinations. There should be increasingly more focus on resurrection of all monuments, forts, palaces etc. IHHA should be the frontrunner to attract tourists from all across the world, he added.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, President, IHHA, Mr. Randhir Vikram Singh said that heritage hotels face a lot of challenges such as difficult maintenance, high cost of conservation and restoration , lack of infrastructure, among others. The need of the hour is to conserve and restore the heritage in order to be able to preserve this legacy for the future generations.
A souvenir of the Indian Heritage Hotels Association was also released by the dignitaries on the occasion.
The Vote of Thanks was extended by the General Secretary, IHHA, Captain Gaj Singh Alsisar.