India eyeing bwellness tourism Boom post-pandemic

Post-Covid, wellness became the mantra and now, it’s a trillion-dollar industry: Chaudhary

The hospitality industry of the world is rejuvenated after the scourge of coronavirus pandemic and is set to grow rapidly in the years to come. The collaboration between major hotel brands is catapulting the industry to new heights.

Dr Binod Kumar Chaudhary, Chairman and President, Chaudhary Group, talking about his company’s hospitality journey, said that initially they started with a partnership with Taj in Maldives and Sri Lanka, and today they are running close to 168 hotels worldwide.

“Now we are part of brands like Concept and Fern,” said Chaudhary. He added it was destiny that made them foray into the hospitality sector. “Most successful business families want to get into the hospitality industry today without knowing its intricacies. We are also in real estate business and in the food industry. In fact, we produce 3 per cent of the world’s noodles,” shared Chaudhary.

On being asked by Mandeep Lamba, President (South Asia) HVS Anarock whether the focus was going to be more on international development or was Chaudhary Group going to be looking at the Indian market, Chaudhary said that everybody’s eyes were on India and that they had plans to build hotels in India.

Speaking on the growth of the wellness sector, Chaudhary stated that, “Post-Covid, wellness has become the mantra. It’s a trillion dollar industry. Every brand wants to have some component towards wellness. It has fast become a way of life. People are going on wellness holidays these days. India really needs to break into these avenues. India can become a world class wellness destination.”

Chaudhary was intrigued with the fact that India, despite its growth and spending power, was not attracting proportional tourist traffic.

Mandeep Lamba explained that in 2002-23, he used to work for ITC and they were targetting five million tourists. The sector was not ready for it at that time. However, he said that India has undergone major change in its capacity.

“We have gone from 50 to 150 airports in the country. We have close to around 170,000 branded hotel rooms and they are concentrated in top 10-15 cities in India. If we want more traffic, we need more airports, more hotels and better infrastructure. In Agra, beyond going to the Taj Mahal, there is practically nothing you can do in that city. That city has not evolved to attract more tourism. Our infrastructure is getting better. Our last mile connectivity is getting better. As a destination, we are getting ready. The key will be the connectivity. Geopolitically, we are capturing the attention of the world. Indians are getting into major political positions across the world. Our time is coming now. India is at a cusp and soon, we will become the third largest economy in the world,” said Lamba.

Chaudhary pointed out that the Indian Government had to work in tandem with the Indian hotel industry and keep the industry leaders in the forefront to garner more tourist traffic. Lamba said that the socialist government mindset had prevented the administration from focussing on the hospitality industry which was perceived as an elitist sector.

“Industry growth is an evolutionary process. It cannot exceed the infrastructure of the country. The Government has not really been actively able to support this. It comes from a socialist mindset. A sector that is perceived as elitist has held the govt to support the sector. States are taking the lead as the industry is going to bring in a lot of revenue,” Chaudhary said, emphasising that hospitality was going to be the focus area for their company. 

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