Landmarks and Achievements
More than a decade and a half of success
Founded in 1996, HAI has evolved as an integrated hospitality industry platform to keep pace with the growing buoyancy ushered in by the liberalization of Indian economy in the mid-90s. In a little over a decade and a half of its inception, HAI has achieved many a milestone and delivered ground-breaking results described below:
- Creating a National Network of HAI Chapters
The Hotel Association of India soon after its inception established a National Network of HAI Chapters in 25 States and 53 Cities in April 1997. Each Chapter was headed by the General Manager of an HAI member-hotel for monitoring hospitality related developments in their respective areas to strengthen HAI’s efforts aimed at addressing the concerns of the hospitality industry on a pan-India basis.
- Legal ‘FIRST’ for Hotel Industry
HAI was called upon to intervene on behalf of the hospitality industry to seek judicial redressal of an administrative directive requiring hotels of 'approved' categories, classified by the Ministry of Tourism, to follow a single tariff system instead of the then prevailing dual tariff system.
The directive was regulatory and tantamount to interference in the management of hotel business.
The stand taken by the Hotel Association of India was endorsed by the High Court of Delhi which granted an immediate Stay on the operation of the Government directive. The legal validation of hospitality industry's system of operation initiated by HAI safeguarded the hotel industry's fundamental right to adopt and follow the system of tariff in hotels best suited to their commercial and business interests in the prevailing economic scenario.
- Affiliation with World Health Organization (WHO)
HAI affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO) in pioneering the concept of ‘Healthy Hotels’ in line with WHO’s ‘Healthy Cities’ campaign by organizing the first ever national Seminar on ‘Hygiene Management in Hotels’ at the ITC Sheraton Hotel, Agra, in 1997. The WHO Representative in India, Dr. Olavi Elo, delivered the Keynote Address at the First Hygiene Management Seminar organized by HAI for SAARC member countries.
- Export House Status for Tourism and Hospitality Industry
The Hotel Association of India, in the second year of its inception, planned and implemented a path breaking initiative of securing a unique recognition for Tourism and Hospitality sectors in India as 'Export Industries'. This has been an unparalleled contribution of the Association in successfully equating the tourism and hotel industries with export industries for availing fiscal benefits as allowed for exports. The Association undertook extensive groundwork, built consensus among all travel, tourism and hospitality segments and held interactive meetings with the Ministries of Commerce, Finance and Tourism.
The Association organized an inter-ministerial and inter industry Conclave on 16th July 1998 at The Oberoi, New Delhi, which was chaired by the late Shri Ramakrishna Hegde, the then Union Minister of Commerce.
The Conclave cleared the decks for hotel industry's recognition on par with other export industries.
The Government of India issued a Gazette Notification on 26th November, 1998, placing Hotels and Tourism Units in the categories of:
- Service Export House
- International Service Export House
- International Star Service Export House and
- International Super Star Service Export House in accordance with the quantum of foreign exchange earnings made by them. It imparted hotels in India for the first time with a competitive edge with hotels overseas in being able to offer world class facilities to their guests.
- Tourism Export Promotion Council (TEPC) Conceptualized
Building upon the grant of Export House Status to hotels, HAI next proposed the establishment of a Tourism Export Promotion Council (TEPC) on the analogy of other Export Sectors which have sectoral Export Promotion Councils such as
- Engineering Exports Promotion Council;
- Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council; and
- Leather Goods Export Promotion Council etc. The EPCs coordinate with the Government for their respective fiscal entitlements.
- SAARC Hotel Association Established
HAI went beyond the national boundaries to promote mutual regional cooperation among the hotel industries in South Asia and became the prime mover for the establishment of the SAARC Hotel Association. HAI convened a meeting of the Hospitality Industry Associations of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on 7th April 1999 at The Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai, which led to the formation of the SAARC Hotel Association. Since the SAARC Secretariat is located in Kathmandu, Nepal offered to host the SAARC Hotel Association also in Kathmandu for the initial two years, and thereafter by rotation in other member countries.
- Study of Tariff System in Hotels
The first ever 'While Paper' on Tariff Systems in Hotels in India was organized in 2000 by HAI through the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), a Central Government Autonomous Organization. The NIPFP was then headed by country's leading economists, Dr. Raja J. Chelliah (former Chief Economic Advisor of the Government of India) and Dr. C. Rangarajan (now Chairman of Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council). The NIPFP under their direction provided the Indian hospitality industry with its most authentic perspective of hotel tariff systems which conclusively established the applicability of world-wide practice of hotels following tariff systems commensurate with their business needs.
The White Paper on Tariff Systems in Hotels drafted by NIPFP was circulated by the Government to the Members of Parliament and to the policymakers in the Government.
- First Afro-Asian Infotech Hotels Expo
HAI - led initiative resulted in Afro-Asian Region's first Conference-cum-Exposition on Information Technology being institutionalized as an annual event in New Delhi for countries in the South Asian Region. The first Conference-cum-Expo organized by HAI on April 10-11, 2000 at the ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, New Delhi. The Seminar was chaired by then Union Minister of Tourism, Shri Ananth Kumar. The then Union Minister of Information Technology, late Shri Pramod Mahajan inaugurated the Seminar and the keynote address on this occasion was delivered by Dr. M. G. K. Menon, former Union Minister of Science and Technology.
- Promoting Public-Private Partnership
The Association took an important step towards promoting Public-Private Partnership by urging its members to collaborate with the Archeological Survey of India in the maintenance of the National Monuments.
This led to the following public-private sector initiatives being launched:
- Illumination of Humayun's Tomb at Delhi by the Oberoi Group of Hotels, in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust;
- Development of facilities for visitors at the Agra Fort by the ITC Hotels Ltd.;
- Maintenance and illumination of the Jantar Mantar Observatory at New Delhi by the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd.
- Second Afro-Asian Infotech-Hotels Expo
The Second Conference-cum-Exposition on Information Technology in Hotels was organized on March 15-16, 2001 at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi. This Afro-Asian conference was supported by the United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Asia and, like the first conference, also by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Information Technology, Government of India, SAARC Tourism Council and SAARC Hotel Association, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and International Hotel & Restaurant Association(IH&RA).
- Guidelines for Provision of Disabled-Friendly Facilities in Hotels
The Association undertook a pioneering role in formulating a comprehensive set of Guidelines for making provision of Disabled Friendly facilities in Hotels, especially in Parking and Approach Areas, Lobbies, Public Areas, Lifts, Rooms, Bathrooms and to install special Fire Prevention measures for the disabled.
- Memorandum of Understanding Signed with the Hotel Association of Nepal & the Uganda Investment Authority
The Hotel Association of India signed two Memorandum of Understanding with the Hotel Association of Nepal and the Uganda Investment Authority aimed at fostering and promoting tourism in their respective countries by, inter alia, agreeing to exchange information in respect of development and trends in the fields of tourism, hospitality and hotel sectors and encourage interaction between their respective hotels and hospitality associations of India for tourism promotion and exploring investment opportunities in these sectors.
- Media Centric Initiatives: Interaction with Foreign Press Correspondents
The over 500 foreign correspondents stationed in India represent the international newspapers and TV Channels and are a major source of reports on India appearing in the foreign media which can make or mar India's image as a peaceful tourist destination country.
In the wake of the series of adverse advisories issued by several foreign Governments, HAI took the initiative to clear the air by inviting the foreign media representation to a Media Conference at Hotel Lalit, New Delhi, on 29th November 2002. Over 100 foreign correspondents stationed in New Delhi participated in the discussions on the impact of Travel Advisories issued by the foreign Governments. It helped in clearing their perception of certain happenings and made them aware of the facilities available in hotels in India. The foreign correspondents stressed the need for arranging such interactions regularly to enable them to send their reports in correct perspective for restoring tourists' confidence about their safety in India.
- Survey on Safety of Tourists Staying in Hotels in India
The Hotel Association of India organized an innovative Survey on 29th November 2002 among foreign tourists staying in hotels in India to ascertain their reactions to advisories issued by several foreign governments following global events like the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in USA and 13/12 in New Delhi, War in Afghanistan and tension on Indo-Pak borders etc. These had seriously eroded traveller confidence about their safety in India.
The HAI Survey clearly established that the majority of tourists considered India as a safe and peaceful destination and foreign travelers viewed the travel advisories and warnings as "coloured by political considerations" and based on "inadequate knowledge of ground realities". Some of them opined that they found New Delhi "safer than Manhattan".
HAI Survey was circulated by the Ministry of Tourism to the Diplomatic Missions in India and through its overseas offices abroad, resulting in several countries reviewing and withdrawing their adverse travel advisories. The Ministry of Tourism in a written communication to HAI acknowledgedS that the survey it had conducted was of "outstanding value" and undertaken "in a highly professional manner".
- HAI-WTO Workshop on Applicability of WTO Rules to Trade in Tourism Services
India being a member country of World Trade Organization (WTO), is required to make commitments on issues relating to Trade and Services. HAI therefore took the initiative to organize a Workshop on "Application of WTO Rules to Trade in Services on February 6, 2002 at the India International Centre, New Delhi. WTO representative Mr. Mark Clough addressed the Workshop. It was the first Workshop of its kind which examined generic issues of relevance to Trade in Services under WTO Rules such as Classification, Transparency, Barriers to Trade etc.
- Confederation of Indian Travel and Tourism Industry (CITTI)
The Executive Committee of HAI at its 30th meeting held on 29th May 2003 at The Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi, considered in depth a proposal initiated by HAI's Corporate Member Mr. P. R. S. Oberoi to establish a single umbrella organization representing the entire spectrum of travel, tourism and hospitality industry to articulate common concerns and to function in an advisory capacity to the Government on the analogy of CII and FICCI for other industries.
HAI undertook detailed preparatory work and drafted the Constitution of the new body to be known as the Confederation of Indian Travel and Tourism Industry (CITTI). Members of the HAI Executive Committee interacted with the Presidents of 15 National Associations of Tourism and Hospitality industries at the 31st EC meeting held on 14th July 2003.
The basic framework of CITTI, including its Memorandum and Articles of Association prepared by HAI, remained under discussion for over 10 years between the various Associations and the Ministry of Tourism, undergoing several modifications. It was eventually launched under the acronym FAITH - Federation of Associations of Indian Tourism and Hospitality - on May 14, 2013, in New Delhi.
Mr Nakul Anand, President HAI, was unanimously elected as the First Chairman of FAITH.
- Encouraging Investments
Hotel Association of India orchestrated the strategy leading to an announcement in the Union Budget 2003 of benefits under Section 10 (23) (g) on loans to hotels (3-Star and above categories) for increasing the availability of funds for the hotel industry. This provision has allowed lending institutions to make available funds to hotel projects at reduced rates of interest. The financial institutions will get a tax break on the interest income they earn on loans extended to such borrowers.
- Restructuring Hospitality Business
The Union Finance Ministry on a proposal initiated by the Hotel Association of India in 2003 set up a Working Group under Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Mumbai, to examine the need for the grant of benefits under Section 72 A of the Income Tax Act relating to the setting-off of accumulated losses and depreciation on amalgamation by the loss-making hotel companies in re-organizing their business. The Working Group was assisted by experts nominated by HAI's Corporate Members.
The facility of mergers and acquisitions was hitherto available only to industrial undertakings and manufacturing units. The Working Group recommended the extension of this facility to hotel companies. It has enabled hotel companies to achieve consolidation and release the resources blocked in non-performing assets. An important fallout of this facility has been that it has enabled smaller hotel units to enter into franchisee arrangements with established hotel groups / chains which in turn has led to improvements in occupancy levels and service standards.
- International Code of Conduct to Govern Relations between Hoteliers, Travel Agents and Tour Operators
The year 2004 witnessed a major initiative by HAI leading to an accord being reached among the Hoteliers, Travel Agents and Tour Operators in India, which had been under discussion for over two decades, to adopt the International Code of Conduct to govern their mutual relations. The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) and the Hotel Association of India (HAI) formally concluded the first ever Tripartite Agreement between Hoteliers, Travel Agents and Tour Operators in India on 28.04.2004.
It signalled to the international travel commonly and business travelers that India had aligned itself with internationally approved policies of hotel bookings, cancellations, refunds, claims etc.
- HAI Directory of Hotels Goes Global
The exclusive HAI Directory of Hotels is an annual publication promoted with a singular aim of fulfilling the long-felt need of tourists and visitors coming to India for an authentic compendium of leading Indian hotels recognized by the Ministry of Tourism. For the first time in 2005, the Directory began to be circulated by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of External Affairs among foreign Travel Agents and Tour Operators and opinion makers through the Government of India's Tourist Offices and Indian Missions abroad.
- World Tourism Day
A new promotional first was scored by HAI for creating awareness about the World Tourism Day on 27th September of each year amongst not only the member-hotels but also the school children. To encourage and facilitate the member-hotels in celebrating the World Tourism Day on 27th September 2005, HAI outlined a bouquet of activities to be organized by the member-hotels. The member-hotels came forward in large numbers and organized the activities with enthusiasm and excitement.
- HAI for 'Equal Opportunity' for Women... a Successful Legal Battle Fought from 1999-2006
To carry forward the movement for empowerment of women and providing them equal opportunities for work in hotels across the country, HAI had filed a writ petition in the High Court of Delhi in July 1999 challenging the 92-year old Section 30 of the Punjab Excise Act 1914. HAI Writ argued that Section 30 enacted under the British Rule as far back as in 1914 was totally misplaced and "out of time" and discriminatory against women on the basis of sex, amounting to violation of their right to equal opportunity at workplaces in the hospitality sector.
After a prolonged legal battle over the last five years, the Delhi High Court in a landmark judgment on January 12, 2006, declared Section 30 of the Punjab Excise Act 1914 ultra vires under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
- Grant of Fiscal Benefits to the Hospitality Industry
For the first time the tourism industry's aspirations elaborated in the Hotel Association of India's various memoranda to the Central Government were translated into "tourism-friendly" measures in the Union Budget of 2006-07. These measures were aimed at making India a more affordable destination, fuelling growth of hospitality infrastructure, facilitating business re-organization, re-structuring hospitality industry and motivating State Governments to rationalize tourism tax regime. The major incentive extended to hospitality industry included an exemption of Service Tax in hotels relating to Conference and Banquet business, which have been excluded from the Service Tax net.
- Zero Duty facility for Imports by Hotels
HAI pursued with the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, for the grant of the zero duty import facility to hotels and standalone restaurants. Under the "Served from India Scheme''', the industry has now been granted the zero duty facility applicable to all hotels including one-star and two-star hotels, for the import of food items and alcoholic beverages which would make India an affordable destination.
- Guidelines for Safety and Security in Hotels
Following the terror attacks on the iconic hotels of Mumbai ?Taj and Oberoi - HAI formulated the comprehensive and the first ever "Guidelines for Security Measures in Hotels" based on a study of best international practices and circulated it to all member hotels to adopt according to their needs. The HAI Guidelines were issued on 10th December 2008.
- Luxury Tax Reduced in Delhi
HAI has been making relentless efforts through a series of representations and memorandums to persuade the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi to rationalize the Luxury Tax in hotels in Delhi. A delegation of HAI Executive Committee members also held a meeting with Smt. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of NCT of Delhi on January 23, 2009, in this regard and urged her to rationalize the luxury tax. This resulted in the Government of NCT of Delhi issuing a Notification on June 22, 2009, reducing the rate of Luxury Tax from 12.5 per cent to 10 per cent in hotels.
- HAI's Active Support for Commonwealth Games
HAI was entrusted by the Central Government to coordinate with all major hotels in Delhi to earmark accommodation for the large number of international sports officials, delegations and sports enthusiasts arriving in Delhi to attend the prestigious Commonwealth Games held in Delhi in 2010, The Organizing Committee of the Games also availed the help of HAI's experts in securing the timely completion of accommodation facilities for the athletes in the Games Village on an emergent basis.
- Goods and Services Tax (GST)
GST, when implemented, will be the single most important tourism-friendly tax reform ever to be introduced in India. It will stitch together a common market by dismantling fiscal barriers between States.
GST being a comprehensive tax will subsume all indirect taxes such as the Excise Duty, Service Tax, Central Sales Tax (CST), State level Sales Tax, VAT, Customs Duty, Octroi, Entry Tax, Stamp Duty, Turnover Tax, and Tax on Transportation of goods and services - thus avoiding the multiple layers of taxation currently in force in India and remove all tax irritants experienced by tourists and hotel guests.
The GST would have a two rate slab - standard rate for general category of goods and services and a lower rate for goods and services which have social importance.
This is the crucial criteria which will determine in which category the hotel industry will be included. As per present discussions in the Standing Committee of Parliament and Empowered Committee of Finance Ministers of States, the Goods and Service Tax at standard rate will be between 18 ?20 per cent while the lower rate would be of 12 per cent.
In this backdrop, HAI has done extensive groundwork and submitted a comprehensive Memorandum to the Ministry of Finance and the Empowered Committee of Finance Ministers of States, providing a strong justification for the inclusion of hotel industry in the lower slab of GST rate of 12 per cent.
- Securing Vacation of Ban on Tourism Activities in Tiger Reserves Imposed by Supreme Court
HAI successfully spearheaded the legal campaign in 2012 for vacation of the ban ordered by the Supreme Court on all tourism activities in the core areas of Tiger Reserve Parks. HAI effectively coordinated with the Senior Lawyers who appeared for the hotel industry by briefing them on the beneficial role which hospitality industry plays in the conservation of wildlife.
HAI also prepared a comprehensive justification for the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for revising the existing guidelines to permit tourism activities in the Tiger Reserves, keeping in view the contribution hospitality and tourism sector makes in weaning away forest dwellers and tribals from their traditional pursuits of hunting and poaching by providing them more avenues and opportunities for rehabilitation in the hospitality industry.
The revised NTCA guidelines were accepted by the Supreme Court and the ban was lifted on October 16, 2012, thereby resolving a major crisis looming before the hotel resorts located in the vicinity of Tiger Reserves.
- HAI's Network of Regional Chapters
As tourism is not included in the 'Central List' under the Constitution of India and the tourism policy varies from State to State, HAI has added a regional dimension to its organizational activities by associating senior hospitality industry executives as Conveners of Regional Chapters to bring into sharper focus the issues impacting the hotels in various regions.
This move is aimed at intensifying HAI's efforts with the State Governments for adopting tourism-friendly norms in respect of provision of land for hotels, power at industrial rates and uniformity of taxes, issues which fall in the domain of respective State Governments.
The responsibilities entrusted to the Regional Chapters include
- holding periodical meetings of the General Managers of HAI member hotels in the region to discuss issues impacting the hospitality industry;
- interacting with the State Governments on local taxes, local land regulations etc.
- promoting educational programmes launched by HAI;
- enroll new hotels as members of HAI, and
- participating in Regional Tourism meetings convened by the State Governments and the Union Ministry of Tourism.
- Third HAI Hoteliers' Conclave
HAI organized its Triennial Hoteliers' Conclave on May 2nd ?3rd, 2013 at The Oberoi, Gurgaon. In the backdrop of the dominant role of information technology, online marketing and booking of hotel accommodation, reservations through distribution channels, exchange of operational data, accounting and back office operations etc., the event was positioned as an 'e-Conclave'.
The third in the series of HAI Conclaves drew wide ranging participation from Owners, CEOs and General Managers of leading Hotels and from representatives of Hotel Associations of Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. Sessions were conducted by leading Indian and International hospitality experts, policy makers from the Government and Faculty experts from the Cornell University, U.S.A.
It provided a unique opportunity to hospitality enterprises and solution providers doing business with hotels to showcase their products and e-services for developing strong business linkages with the decision makers of the Indian hospitality industry.
- HAI's Executive Education Programs
The Hotel Association of India, in collaboration with Switzerland's Lausanne Hotel Consulting ?Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne, launched a new series of Executive Education Programme during 2012-13 which received a positive feedback from the senior level participants of member-hotels.
The Taj Group of Hotels have offered to HAI their Harvard Business School Classroom facility, created in Taj Land's End Hotel, Mumbai, for conducting its Training programmes.
HAI's Executive Committee reviewed the training modules, commended the HAI initiative in bringing high quality hospitality education programmes through world class hospitality institutions, and expressed the need to continue these education programmes on a regular and sustained basis.
HAI has consequently commenced negotiations with leading international Hotel Schools of Cornell, Hague, Geneva, Surrey and Strathclyde Universities of UK, and the Hong Kong University's Tourism and Hotel School, to explore wider options for offering hospitality education courses in India.
- Hotel Industry Moves Towards Infrastructure Industry Status
HAI has been assiduously preparing the groundwork for over a decade and a half in its Pre-Budget Memoranda and Annual Budget Meetings for securing full infrastructure status for the hospitality industry under Section 80-1(A) of the Income Tax Act on the grounds that tourism contributes 6.4% of India's GDP, provides employment - direct and indirect - to 53 million people, improves lives, reduces poverty, empowers women, and promotes inclusive growth of the economy.
A high level interaction by an HAI Delegation led by its Corporate Member Mr. P. R. S. Oberoi with the then Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee (now President of India), paved the way for his announcing at the post-Budget Conference on July 7, 2009, that "the hotel industry has a case for it, and I propose to re-visit it". This proved a game changer for the hospitality industry.
Following a presentation to the Prime Minister and the Planning Commission by the Ministry of Tourism seeking Infrastructure Status for the hospitality sector, and the sustained efforts by HAI's Corporate Member, Mr Vivek Nair, a decision was taken to include "Hotels of 3-Star and above categories located outside cities with a population of more than one million" in the Harmonized Master List of Sub Sectors of Infrastructure notified by the Reserve Bank of India on November 12, 2012.
The above list has now been updated on October 08, 2013, by the Union Finance Ministry to include "Hotels with project cost of more than Rs. 200 crore each in any place in India and of any star rating" in a Harmonized List of Sub Sectors of Infrastructure eligible for infrastructure lending. This represents a significant step towards granting of full infrastructure status to the hospitality industry.
HAI has therefore, in its Pre-Budget Memorandum for 2014-15, once again projected this demand as a Priority Vertical.
- HAI Celebrates "Green Week"
The Hotel Association of India, ever since its inception in 1996, has been befittingly celebrating the "World Environment Day" on June 05 every year by launching the "HAI Green Week" in its member hotels.
Each Year, HAI members reaffirm their commitment to protect the environment so as to leave behind a healthy and clean Mother Earth for generations to follow. The sustained adherence to this campaign by HAI for over a decade-and-half has inspired member hotels to continually raise the bar by adopting latest environment friendly technologies, products and processes in the hotel operations. The success of these efforts is reflected by the 16th Annual Green Week celebrated in HAI member hotels on June 05, 2013.