While many commentators are predicting the economy and mid-scale sectors will be the first to recover in the post Covid-19 world, Vikram Madhok, managing director with Abercrombie & Kent, has taken the opposite view.
While agreeing with other speakers at the Hospitality Tomorrow event that domestic tourism will lead the way, he suggested hoteliers can expect a boom in demand for high-end trips.
“Luxury will be the first space to revive; against many expectations we have begun to see bookings from the United States,” he told an industry audience earlier.
“These arrivals hinge on visas, and flights, but when luxury comes back, it will come back with a vengeance.
“Next year, in the autumn, we will see strong demand.”
Madhok pointed to an ending of the lockdown in India, a return of aviation routes and a government willing to issue visas as precursors to any recovery, but said he was generally optimistic.
“The pause button has been hit and we are currently in a process of resetting,” he continued.
“Even in this situation, I am optimistic.
“Domestic markets, and then neighbouring countries, might take around six months to come back, but comeback they will.”
While arguing a great deal of uncertainty remained, his remarks were supported by Ajay Bakaya, managing director with Sarovar Hotels & Resorts.
A seasoned hotelier, and instrumental in the growth of Sarovar, he suggested potential guests would seek out smaller, more exclusive properties in order to avoid crowds and lower the risk of contagion.
The hotelier said: “There is certainly a surfeit of chaos at present, even for an area of the world that thrives on a measure of disorder.
“But we are seeing demand for a ‘revenge holiday’ emerge – people freeing themselves from their household lockdown and taking a break.
“Within this, we are seeing demand for our smaller hotels, where people might see risks as lower as there are few people.”
Bakaya added he expected to see guests driving from big cities, at least initially, before air travel and public transport returned in India later in the year.
Powered by Bench Events, Hospitality Tomorrow was launched to support the hard-hit international hotel community during Covid-19, by offering a virtual conference platform that provides knowledge, facilitates information sharing and connects the industry.