Rai Umraopati Ray
Post pandemic, what are your thoughts as far as travel, tourism, hospitality and other allied sectors are concerned?
Firstly, we definitely hope, feel, keep our fingers crossed and pray that everything bounces back to its optimal levels. We all know and realise that the amount of suffering hotels, airlines, all segments of travel and tourism have gone through. Hopefully, things are looking better and the fact that such niche conferences (GDEC 2022) are taking place and people are coming in such large numbers is in itself a great step. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Every adversity gives birth to something new, something different. We all hope that this will lead to new trends, a new wave of collaborations and partnerships.
One thing, which we all have understood is the interdependence of various other industries is exceptionally critical and important. There is nothing that can run in isolation. For instance, our travel and tourism industry is heavily dependent upon the aviation sector. Thus, it is time for all of us to come together, support each other and take our industry to new heights.
The concept of Destination Wedding has evolved a lot. With so many varieties and destinations available, how do you see Rajasthan faring as an exotic wedding destination?
At the end of the day, the more places, the more venues, the more spaces come up, it kind of concretises your own standing that much more. It works in our favour. The more places we have, there will be more comparability of all aspects. For instance, whoever realised or whoever thought in the wildest of dreams that Lake Como of Italy will ever be compared to the lakes in Udaipur. But it is happening now. It is no more about just cities or places, people talk about in a very fluid form without geographical boundaries. I don’t see it as a disadvantage. The pie is increasing and so will the revenue.
Add to this, it also takes care of the complacency part of things. So people cannot get lazy, complacent or overconfident if they want to be at the top of their game. It is a great leveller in that sense. At the end, it is about choices of the people and we should respect that.
As one of the prominent leaders representing tourism and hospitality sectors in Rajasthan, how important is domestic tourism in the present scenario?
As far as domestic tourism is concerned, we owe it to our country and countrymen. The number of people who have visited Rajasthan from Gujarat is phenomenal. The amount of people who have flocked in from neighbouring states is absolutely amazing. For the longest time, the domestic market has been huge in terms of people coming from all across the country and supporting the people of Rajasthan. We see a lot of visitors from places like Kolkata and cities of Gujarat. A lot of them have their roots in Rajasthan and they are in huge numbers. They come back to celebrate occasions and festivals which gives a lot of momentum to the local economy.
In the last couple of years, with international travel cut off, a lot of domestic travellers came to Rajasthan. Not only to our State but people went to new destinations all over the country. People explored India like never before. Fortunately, Udaipur is aptly located, a 55-minutes flight from Delhi and Mumbai and an 8-hour drive from both metro cities so we saw a lot of people coming in for short holidays and in very good numbers. Thus the domestic market is very important, it has always been important and it will be important in the future. Travellers from abroad are most welcome. It is nice to have a bit of a variety, a bit of a mix but when your own fellow countrymen travel, you share your own culture, heritage and tradition with them, that is a different set of joy.
What are your plans for HRH Group of Hotels? Any new property expected this fiscal?
There is a lot of reworking of strategies at this point in time. Yes, we have been looking at a lot of spaces. In terms of new properties, we are concentrating on fixing the ones we have at this point in time. Constant up gradation of heritage property is no less than opening a new one. These heritage properties require a lot of hard work, effort, sweat, blood and money. So presently, we are focusing on this and as the market opens up and business starts, we shall look at new opportunities.
As a celebrated philanthropist, what have been your key focus areas? Any new social drive or campaign?
The Covid-19 pandemic has been hard on every Indian household in terms of managing health, finances and livelihood. I wanted to make sure that we take care of the immediate people in our community by focussing on their food requirements and by providing them clothes. While people may end up talking about my 6 Guinness World Records in the last 4 years, I am happy to share that on an everyday basis, there is constantly something happening either with local communities, on animal welfare or upkeep of heritage buildings.
Anything more you would like to share?
Yes, it would be great if we could sensitise or inspire people to experience and explore local places, culture, traditions and communities. The general spirit should be to go out and explore places within 100-kms distance. Sometimes, there are some phenomenal places to discover and it gives a boost to the local tourism.
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