During the lockdown in India, an India hotel chain is reaching out to over 15 embassies in support of providing accommodation for stranded tourists.
The COVID-19 coronavirus is having a huge impact on the entire hospitality industry worldwide with occupancy rates plunging. In these uncertain and difficult times, continuing its fight against COVID-19 and supporting the Government of India in its efforts to break the chain and maintain the necessary nationwide lockdown, Oyo Homes & Hotels has taken a series of measures to accommodate foreign nationals stranded in the country as well as provide support to frontline medical staff, aircrew, corporates, tourists, PGs, and the like who need accommodation.
As part of the outreach, the hotel group is in touch with over 15 diplomatic missions in India and has already helped stranded foreign tourists from the US, Brazil, Belgium, Portugal, Australia, Chile, Argentina, and Indonesia in availing accommodation during the nationwide lockdown in properties across tier 1 and tier 2-3 cities in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Rishikesh, Pondicherry, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, and Jalandhar.
The government of India on March 24, released the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines for the 21-day nationwide lockdown, which recognizes under point 7, that while hospitality services will be suspended, the following exceptions will be made:
- Hotels, homestays, lodges and motels which are accommodating tourists and persons stranded due to lockdown, medical and emergency staff, sea and aircrew.
- Establishments used/earmarked for quarantine facilities.
The company set up a swift response team to understand requirements of the stranded tourists, initiated contact with embassies, guests, and the Ministry of Tourism and identified hotels that can be of service in this hour of need. In order to ensure the necessary hygiene and sanitation as well as protection for frontline staff, all medical and health & safety requirements for smooth check-in, as required by the Ministry of Health & WHO are being complied with. The company has also been providing regular updates to said embassies on the wellbeing of the foreign nationals.
Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes, said: “These are testing times for the world and we at OYO, too have been deeply impacted by COVID-19. Both revenues and occupancies have dropped. Our commitment to the community at large remains, however, remains unflinched and we want to do everything possible to ensure we can provide reliable accommodation to persons stranded- be it tourists, travelers, PGs, essential service providers etc while maintaining the highest standards of hygiene and safety for guests, employees and asset partners. The lockdown we believe will surely help flatten the curve and we are standing strong with the Government to offer support to those who are stranded and in need of accommodation. We also thank the embassies for trusting us with their requirements. As a hotel chain, it is our responsibility to demonstrate ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ during these testing times. We are grateful for the efforts of each and every professional whose role requires them to be at the forefront of India’s fight against COVID-19 and we want to do our bit in this fight.”
The company is focusing on a two-pronged strategy to minimize the possibility of infection and maximize social distancing and hygiene. Certain hotels are being identified to partner with hospitals for setting up safe, pay per use quarantine facilities. Certain others are focused on providing safe shelter to local and foreign tourists and travelers who are stranded in cities owing to the lockdown.
Commenting on this development, Gustavo Westmann, Head of the Trade and Investment Office, Embassy of Brazil to India said: “I am pleased to highlight that OYO has been a great partner of the Brazilian Embassy in this period of global crisis. As we are aware, lots of hotels and homestays in India have been temporarily restricting their services or shutting down, leaving tourists from all over the world in difficult situations. By having one of the largest networks of hotels in the country, the team of OYO has been able to provide solutions to Brazilian citizens with different budgets, in different locations around the country, with professionalism and a great commitment to social responsibility. We appreciate the efforts promoted by OYO and the partnership with the Embassy of Brazil in India.”
The Embassy of Chile shared: “The Embassy would like to thank you and the entire team of OYO for the coordination and support provided by your team during this time of the pandemic. As we all are aware when the Covid-19 break out began there was a large number of tourists from all around the world that had to stay back in India due to restrictions on international air traffic. Tourists were in a foreign land, away from their family, their people and their homes. At this point it was hard to find good and trusted properties for the foreign nationals at affordable prices. OYO staff was kind enough to offer any assistance through hotels PAN India. Since then the team from OYO has been just a call away at any given hour. The contact persons are always available and have provided The Embassy with the most affordable prices. The Embassy would once again like to thank the team of OYO for their efforts and support in this difficult time for tourists being away from home.”
The Royal Thai Embassy added: “The Royal Thai Embassy in New Delhi lauds Ritesh Agarwal’s startup-OYO for opening doors to its hotels to all the foreign nationals stranded in India during this unprecedented crisis. On 30 March 2020, our Embassy reached out to OYO, to seek accommodation for Thai nationals stranded in the city of Amritsar. The request was attended to with kind consideration and utmost professionalism. Staff at OYO are working 24/7 to ensure that each and every request for help is promptly attended to. Thanks to OYO for staying committed to support Indians and foreigners stranded across all the cities in India in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A female tourist from Belgium shared that she was stranded at Malviya Nagar, New Delhi and was in dire need of an accommodation nearby due to the sudden lockdown and lack of transport. On being alerted by the Belgium Embassy, the OYO team sprung into action and reached out to her immediately, comforting her while simultaneously scouting for OYO properties nearby. Once the property was identified, an OYO employee remained in continuous touch with her via phone and guided her to the property and ensured she checked in.
Employees of the hotel group across the globe have also come together to set up a Welfare Fund proceeds of which will be used for the benefit and welfare of the employees at hotel group properties, asset partners and their staff members in impacted situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the consequent restrictions. This fund will also be used for the welfare of the community at large when faced with difficult situations in the long run.