Travelling and tourism is the key growth of many countries, India being one of them. Tourism is the largest service industry in India and with the wild pace of technological advancement, it is the fastest growing industry world-wide. “And in tourism hospitality is the key to success” says Dr Suri, MD, Lalit group. FICCI FLO Kolkata invited multifaceted Dr Jyotsna Suri who was honoured with a doctorate Warwick University for her contribution in hotel industry and tourism. Famously known as ‘The Leading Lady Light’. The session was moderated Britta Leick-Milde, GM of Hyatt Regency.
(L-R: Anupama Sureka, Chairperson FICCI FLO, Dr Jyotsna Suri and Britta Leick-Milde)
What is hospitality according to you?
Hospitality for me is Make in India. It also sounds similar to incredible India – the father of both the campaigns is Amitabh Kant. Hospitality comes naturally to us.
Real tourists are still minuscule. How can we drive more people coming to India?
Business travel still tops. Domestic tourism is mostly religious travel, which is fine but we need to enhance the infra structure. Travellers should see India beyond the golden triangle.
Our we not marketing our treasured sites enough?
Robust domestic tourism will make a difference not international. The genuine tourists are going out of India, but very recently a small percentage of youth have started travelling to picturesque sites within india as well. And when it comes to destination weddings, they are still more popular outside India but there are some Goa hotels that are surviving on weddings.
Tell us about your new initiative Disha.
Project Disha – implemented under the overall CSR policy of Bharat Hotels seeks to assist school students and local youth have access to quality ‘education leading to employment’. We are aiming to churn out 200 students next year. I want more kids to dream to become a hotelier.
What is your success philosophy?
We don’t develop hotels, we develop destinations.
We all really want to hear about Lalit Suri and your journey after he left us.
Lalit was an automobile engineer and I had done English Honours. We both wanted to start something in hospitality and finally decided to venture out. Once we started our hotel business and it took off smoothly, Lalit got involved in Politics and he found his new calling there. I was handling the operations myself and fully supported his political career. In 2006, we lost him forever and I instantly called a board meeting. But it was impossible to sit in his chair. The bankers are always waiting to drop you down and the media is adding fuel to the fire. He left me with six hotels and today we have 12 and will be 14 very soon. Our next two will be London and Ahmedabad. But his chamber in the office is still as it is.
Please bust some common myths to boost our tourism
The biggest myth that hotels in India are expensive. If you compare them to Europe its a lot cheaper and we have maximum variety to cater to all budgets. Tourists want to look at the remains of Roman civilisation but no-one knows that the Harappan Civilisation is so well reserved. We are capable of contributing 9% GDB easily.
The discussion witnessed the esteemed presence of Sri Ajit Ranjan Bardhan, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism dept, Govt of West Bengal, Atul Dixit, Airport director, Airport authority of India, Vijay Dewan, MD, The Park, Kolkata. “the objective of the session is to chart the growth of tourism and hospitality industry, focusing both chronologically and thematically,” said Anupama Sureka. The session definitely enlightened us with the nitty grittier involved in making the industry successful in the years to come.