Strategy for Hotel Turnaround
By Anil Bhandari

A large number of recently-opened hotels in India are becoming non-performing assets as a result of imbalanced investments, lack of performance, rising interest rates, currency volatility, tepid demand scenario and an economy marked by high inflation.

One of the most difficult factors in developing hotel properties is the cost of land prices in India and multiple approvals to be obtained for building hotels resulting in cost and time escalation.

Money for completion of a hotel project is raised through various ways but the owner faces problems such as high amount of interest rates and the short span of time to repay it. Bank loans and private equity are the two best options on offer to hoteliers.

Hotel projects are major investments and it could take between 8 to 10 years to break even. There are no ROI guarantees, and for the first one year or so, a new hotel could even struggle to meet its own costs.

Another challenge faced by the owner is the rising competition in the market, especially with the large number of national and international brands entering the local market. Achieving the expected ARR and occupancy becomes an uphill task. The timescale fixed by the bank or equity holder for repayment is too short for the owner to consider his ROI.

Instead of trying to compete with rival hotels and turning the hotel into a non-performing asset, the owner needs to strategize his plans to improve upon his liabilities and make it possible to pay back his loans. Most owners do not strategize as they are not conversant with the business so it is advisable for owners to have specialists. For turning around a property one needs to do market analysis, SWOT and work out a plan to maximize revenues and yields.

This capital-intensive industry is passing through challenging times. In a hard-hitting macro-economic environment hotels need to prioritize re-alignment of their cost structures, optimize operational efficiencies and adopt flexible business models. A turnaround specialist has the requisite knowhow and operational skills required to turn an under-performing hotel into a market leader.

Involvement, commitment, experience, creative strategies, and proven best practices provide the cutting edge to a turnaround specialist.

I have turned around many sick Government companies while work with the India Tourism Development Corporation group of hotels as well as with the Centaur Group of Hotels. Both companies which were in losses / lesser profits were turned around to handsome profits paying back the liabilities and paid dividends to the share-holders / government. ITDC and the Centaur Group had a total of 36 hotels.

As Chairman and Managing Director of ITDC from 1992 to 1997, I was responsible for effecting the turnaround of ITDC’s Hotel Division as well as the Travel Division from erstwhile loss-making to profit-making centres. ITDC achieved a 126.3% increase in turnover from Rs. 139.60 crore in 1992 to Rs. 315.90 crore in 1997.

Appointed Managing Director of Hotel Corporation of India from 1987 to 1994, I took charge of the Centaur Group of Hotels. During that time I effected the turnaround of HCI thereby achieving a profit of Rs. 4.40 crore in 1994 from a loss of Rs. 4.70 crore in 1987. This was done while I had additional responsibilities as Director, Indo-Hokke Hotels; Director, India Tea & Restaurants Limited; and Member, Governor’s Board of Sher-e-Kashmir.

An effective turnaround plan helps improve profitability and maximizes the hotel’s potential. This is possible through innovatively exploring alternative sources of revenue, changes in product portfolio and market position, development of new products, and improving the image of the property.

In an industry amid stiff competition, hotels have to consider prospects of strategizing effective turnarounds with expert help to step out of the non-performing assets’ mould, move with the times and attain a distinct competitive position in the market.

BW Hotelier Magazine edition dated 6 July 2016

Hotels Should Immediately End Price War

Hotels competing for higher occupancies by resorting to discounts and freebies resulting in lower ARRs are
only harming their balance sheets. Beneficiaries of this competition are the corporates, by Anil Bhandari

THERE ARE many reasons for a large number of hotels making losses and turning into non-performing assets despite reporting high occupancies. Revenue in respect of Room and Food & Beverage are not increasing as they should. On the other hand, expenditure on raw materials, manpower, heat, light, power and taxes is increasing.

Non-payment of interest and loans results in increase in liability to banks and financial institutions. The final result is loss / lower Profit.

Hotels in India may be enjoying occupancies of 65% and above but are heading for difficult times. Most of the hotels which have come up in the recent past in the National Capital Region have lower ARR, with five-star deluxe hotels between Rs. 6,500-7,000 and for 5-star hotels Rs. 3,500-4,500.

Hotels, in order to achieve higher occupancy, give lower rates to corporates, Airlines, Tour operators and OTAs. Most of the hotels, apart from giving lower rate, offer freebies which cost a good amount. The freebies include:

  • Pick-up / drop service from airport Rs. 1,000
  • Welcome drink on arrival Rs. 30
  • Mineral water, despite having water filtration plants Rs. 20
  • Breakfast comprising over 50 items and multiple cuisines Rs. 600
  • Wi-Fi Rs. 50
  • Sauna Rs. 50
  • Some hotels give 50% discount in Bar on drinks during Happy Hours
  • Confectionery items 50% discount from 8 p.m. onwards

In other words the total amount of freebies comes to Rs. 1,750. Estimated operational cost of maintaining a room is Rs. 1,000 for a five-star hotel and much more for a deluxe hotel. Net recovery of the room will be Rs. 750.

In addition, there are other expenses such as rent, taxes and interest on loan, depreciation, etc. resulting in further losses for the property.

Another department where hotels continue to offer discounted rates is the Banquets in comparison to stand-alone Banquet halls resulting in lower revenues / profits. Private caterers organize banquets, especially weddings, with tented, air-conditioned halls, and charge rentals of Rs. 15 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh while farm houses charge rentals from Rs. 5 lakh onwards. In addition, the private caterers charge separately for food, a good-quality menu costing Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 4,500 per head.

Five-star deluxe and 5-star hotels either do not charge for rental or even if they do, charge negligibly. Even the food charges are modest, ranging from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,500.

I suggest that hotel general managers in every State and city sit together along with their associations like FHRAI / HAI collectively and take a decision on the minimum rates to be charged for rooms during various periods of the year.

Hotels competing for higher occupancies by resorting to discounts and freebies resulting in lower ARRs are only harming their balance sheets. Beneficiaries of this competition are the corporates, Travel agents and OTAs who buy the rooms at a lower rate and sell at higher rates. Hotels should stop discounts as well as curtail the number of freebies or else face the consequences.

In my view hotels should immediately end this price war, increase ARR for five-star hotels to a minimum of Rs. 5,500 and five-star deluxe hotels to Rs. 7,500. They should preferably make their product and service value a decider of their room rate strategy. In respect of Banquets they should increase rates and hall rentals as stand-alone banquet operators are doing.

In case hotels do not stop this price war of discounts and freebies they will continue to bleed, resulting in losses. The Hotel industry will become sick and this will inevitably lead to lower investments from within the country and abroad.

BW Hotelier Magazine edition dated 23 June 2016

States Should Build Tourism Parks

by Anil Bhandari

PRESENTLY INDIA has 200,000 hotel rooms in the approved category and an estimated 100,000 rooms in the unapproved category. The country would need 180,000 additional rooms by 2020 to cater to 20 million tourists as Tourism is expected to grow 12% per annum as per the 12th Five-year Plan.

The major reasons for people not investing in hotels is high cost of land, non-availability of approved land for hotels, restrictive building norms/bye-laws and lack of basic infrastructure. There is no land currently earmarked in Master Plans of States for hotels. Land use is converted from commercial to hotel land leading to haphazard development of hotels and impacting the environment. States need to take appropriate steps to create Tourism Parks resulting in increased tourist arrivals, employment opportunities leading to higher economic growth.

The proposal for the creation of Tourism Parks was suggested by me in the year 2007. A Tourism Park is a tract of land with defined boundaries for developing an integrated tourism complex, with prescribed carrying capacities, having facilities and activities, maintaining the environment and retaining the culture of the destination. I had suggested that each Tourism Park could be developed on at least 10 to 50 acres of land.

The Government of India has made a provision for 20 Tourism Parks with an outlay of Rs. 1,000 crore in the 12th Five-year Plan period. Most States have not understood the benefits of Tourism Parks. Only a few have shown interest. West Bengal has initiated Tourism Parks at Jharkali, Gajoldoba and Banarahat. The Karnataka Government plans to develop Tourism Parks at Hampi, Pattadakal and Badami.

States such as Sikkim and the ‘seven sisters’ of the North-East, or Chhattisgarh for instance, have unique tourism products but low tourist visitation. They can benefit immensely by creation of Tourism Parks. These integrated hospitality areas would assure tourists of a good ‘visitor experience’ and maintain long-term environmental sustainability.

Besides identifying areas with high tourist potential, the State Governments should:

  • Enact a special legislation for Tourism Parks
  • Conduct research to work out carrying capacity of destinations
  • Acquire land and develop a Master Plan consistent with Department of Tourism’s plans and identify boundaries for notification and development.
  • Create integrated tourist facilities at one place through development with Local /Special Area Development Authorities/Private Sector
    Lay down basic infrastructure of roads, electricity, sewerage lines, water supply, telecom, etc.
  • Area be controlled through given set of regulatory conditions.

The land should be leased out at reasonable rates to investors with the condition that facilities should be built within four years or the deposit amount would be confiscated. All approvals and licenses to start the hotels/activities should be in place beforehand.

Creation of Tourism Parks in or near places of tourist interest such as commercial and business districts, hill stations and religious locations will attract foreigners and Indians in large numbers thereby providing safe and sustainable tourism. I suggest that all State Governments create Tourism Parks after conducting research on the carrying capacity of the place identified to work out the number of hotels/rooms and other facilities and allocate land as required.

The gains resulting by creation of Tourism Parks are as follows:

Benefits to States

  • Higher inflow of investments
  • Increased employment opportunities
  • Easier to regulate environment
  • Focused tourism development
  • Sustainable income by leasing/taxes, etc.

Benefits to Investors

  • Lower Capital investment as land will be on lease
  • Land with all approvals & basic infrastructure
  • Single-window clearance
  • Environmental controls
  • Fiscal benefits, incentives, tax holiday

Benefits to Tourists

  • Availability of integrated facilities at one place
  • Greater choice to tourists through a basket of services
  • Safety & Security: Area free from touts/beggars
  • Competitive Price – Value For Money
  • Clean & regulated environment

A living example of a Tourism Park is Delhi International Airport Authority’s (DIAL) Hospitality District. There are 5,000 rooms, convention and shopping centres on 45 acres of land in the vicinity of the airport. DIAL earns over Rs. 100 crore per annum as lease money and the amount is assured to DIAL in perpetuity.

State Governments can follow DIAL’s example and utilize the income generated from the Parks for tourism infrastructural development, product promotion and enhanced publicity campaigns.

Hospitality Biz edition dated June 2016

Water Conservation Strategy In Hotels

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Drought conditions have affected over 330 million people, which is a quarter of the population of India. Planet Earth’s surface comprises 75% water, a resource that is wasted instead of being conserved. Many countries, realising the value of this diminishing resource, have implemented long-term plans for water conservation and soil enrichment.

Even the hotel industry, aware of its responsibilities, is actively recycling water, carrying out rain water harvesting and chemical treatment to preserve, conserve and enrich the country’s water resources.

Upcoming hotels should install equipment that helps conserve water while existing properties should replace the gadgets with higher-efficiency equipment. Auto/Sensor taps should replace conventional taps and auto-flushes should become a common feature. As water leakages are a common occurrence, the hotel plumbing material should be of high quality and certified standards. Workmanship should also be of top quality.

New water-efficient gadgets are available in the market and hotel owners and consultants should conduct research for the latest technology products at the planning stage itself. Guests and staff need to be appraised of the benefits and the procedure of using these water-conserving products.

Areas which consume water in sizeable quantities in hotels are guest toilets, kitchens, laundry, gardens and swimming pools. Here are some suggestions to economise on the water usage:

Guest rooms

  • Install low-flow shower heads as they give about 6 litres of water per minute (p.m.) compared to 10 litres p.m of the conventional model.
  • Likewise, a low-flow tap gives 3 litres p.m. instead of 10-15 litres p.m. for conventional sinks.
  • Low-flow toilets use average 6 litres per flush compared to the older models that use two to four times more.
  • Dual flushing system in the toilet discharges 1.5 litres for liquid waste and 7 litres for solid waste.
  • Use waterless urinals in water closets in public areas of property.
  • Maintenance is essential as a leaking toilet can waste 750 litres in a day.

Kitchen

  • Taps in kitchens should have a maximum flow of 10 litres p.m.
  • Dishwashers and pot flushing to be used only on full-load capacity.
  • Pre-soaking utensils and dishes saves use of running water.

Laundry

  • Washing machine operations to be done only when they are fully loaded and at fixed hours.
  • Re-use water from previous rinse cycles from temporary holding tanks for first wash of the next cycle.
  • Maintenance should include regular checks for leaking dump valves, proper functioning of water inlet valves and water re-use tanks.

Encourage saving

  • A water audit will show where major water costs are being incurred and where savings can be made.
  • Communicate management’s commitment to follow water economy to employees.
  • Establish goals for each department.
  • Train staff to use water economically and how to maintain equipment.
  • Waiters should serve water to guests after asking them rather than pouring water in glasses as is the current practice.
  • At conferences and meetings, large bottles of water with glasses at delegates’ tables will be more economical instead of keeping small bottles for individual delegates.
  • Encourage staff to give their suggestions to reduce the property’s water usage.

Garden

  • Use only recycled water for gardening.
  • Water the grounds early in the morning or late in the evening.
  • Moisture sensors in gardens and grounds will avoid over-watering.
  • Plant trees which need less water to thrive.
  • Place wood chips on top of the soil to help reduce evaporation.

Swimming pools

  • Backwash swimming pool after 2-3 days instead of daily.
  • Chemically clean water at intervals instead of frequently refilling pool with fresh water.
  • Cover swimming pool when not in use to prevent evaporation.
  • To prevent leaks, record meter reading last thing at night and first thing in the morning.

Suggestion for guests

  • Suggesting guests to use water economically in toilets

Hospitality Biz edition dated April 2016

Disinvestment of ITDC: A fait accomplish

India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) was established in 1966 as an autonomous public sector corporation. It was entrusted with the task of helping develop infrastructure and promote India as a tourist destination. The Government chose to move forward in the tourism sector as the private sector was reluctant to invest in tourism projects.

In 1970, ITDC’s scope of operations enlarged by merging Ashok Hotels Ltd. and Janpath Hotels Ltd., comprising Janpath, Lodhi and Ranjit Group of Hotels.

Over a period of time the Ashok Group, ITDC’s accommodation chain, became the largest in the country. There were over 4,000 rooms in 36 hotels located in 30 tourist destinations ranging from five-star hotels to moderately priced and budget hotels pan-India. Each hotel was designed to highlight India’s unique culture, handicrafts and cuisine.

From 1992 to 1997, I managed and operated India’s largest hotel chain, the Ashok Group with 32 hotels, a travel company called Ashok Travel &Tours with 11 offices, as also 12 Duty free shops at international airports in India. The Corporation then had a workforce of over 12,000 employees.

Prior to my taking over as Chairman and Managing Director of ITDC Limited, most of hotels were making losses. ITDC’s turnover in the year 1991-92 was Rs 139.59 crore and Profit after Tax (PAT) was Rs 2.85 crore. In 1992-93 the turnover was Rs 158.39 crore and PAT Rs 9.64 crore.

The Government decided to privatise/disinvest ITDC hotels, but the move was stalled as the 91 unions that existed in all its hotels raised objections to the disinvestment plans. Most of the hotels had already been partially closed as the Government did not sanction funds for maintenance.

In pursuance of the process of disinvestment, I proposed to the Government to turnaround the company, the hotels and other divisions so as to get better value of the shareholding as was done in the case of Maruti Suzuki that was offloading 50% equity of company. The Government agreed with my proposal and the equity offloading was done in a phased manner after restructuring the company.

I initiated the process of restructuring by introducing a voluntary retirement scheme to reduce manpower. Out of a total 12,000 staff, over 2,000 members opted for the offer. As a morale booster, cadre review and wage negotiations were conducted. All these steps resulted in winning the confidence of the staff and most ITDC hotels and other divisions started showing handsome profits, with 1994-95’s turnover being Rs 235.93 crore and PAT Rs 28.36 crore, in contrast to the marginal profits of the previous years.

In the year 1995, ITDC offloaded 10% of equity to the public and the Indian Hotels Company. IHCL (Taj Group) took 67,51,000 shares, or 9.99861% of the Government’s holdings. All the shares, with a face value of Rs 10 each, were transferred at an average price of Rs 77 per share.

In 1996-97, ITDC showed a turnover of Rs 315.89 crore and the highest profit after tax of Rs 53.60 crore which is a record till date. All the loans taken from the Government were returned and in 1996-97 a 20% dividend was paid.

I left ITDC in 1998.

The Government which came into power under AB Vajpayee decided to disinvest in ITDC as well as Hotel Corporation of India properties. Most of the hotels, like Kanishka, Ashok Yatri Nivas, Lodhi Hotel, Ashok Bangalore, Centaur hotels at Mumbai airport and Juhu Beach and many more were sold to the private sector along with their staff and all liabilities. The hotels were sold for a song as there were not many buyers.

The present Government has also made it clear that the government has no business to running hotels. The process of disinvestment of loss-making PSUs, including ITDC is currently on.

The objectives of ITDC have been met as planned and the private sector has made significant inroads in the tourism sector. In my view the Government should consider disinvesting the remaining 90% equity of ITDC which should include all the hotels and other divisions along with the staff and all liabilities. Even the flagship hotel, The Ashok, making a paltry profit, should either be sold or given to a professional hotel management company. The money realized from the disinvestment move could be better utilized for tourism marketing and development of tourism-related infrastructure

Letter to Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi on ‘Namaskar’ in May 2016

Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Kejriwalji,
Namaskar

This form of greeting needs to be encouraged among all Indians.
Let us greet each other by saying “Namaskar” to each other.
Let us project our culture with this simple form of greeting to our guests and visitors from different towns and countries.
I suggest that you be a trend-setter in Delhi on this issue and help in advocating promotion of “Namaskar.”

In the party manifesto, the Aam Aadmi Party had promised that it would make Delhi a tourism hub after coming to power.
In July last year you had said that the Delhi Government would work towards developing the national capital into a tourism hub at par with global cities.
I am happy to see that what you had promised is turning into reality.
Heartiest congratulations to Delhi Tourism for organizing cultural programmes in the capital.

“Namaskar” could help in making the national capital a more “tourist-friendly” metropolis.
Delhi Tourism should encourage the use of “Namaskar” by launching a programme to promote the use of “Namaskar.”
I have been a firm advocate of the “Namaskar” form of greeting for the past two decades.

However, the traditional “Namaskar” is being overtaken and replaced with an imitation of the Western style of “good morning,” etc. among our younger generation.
This is not so in other countries. They proudly continue to propagate their customary traditional style of greeting.
For instance, in Thailand it is “Wai,” in Sri Lanka “Ayu bowan,” in Germany “Guten Morgen” and in France “Bon soir.”

Foreigners visiting India are fascinated by our customs, culture, hospitality, festivals, cuisines, climate and vibrant colours.
They would feel more hospitable if they were greeted with a simple “Namaskar.”
This simple act of greeting would instill a sense of importance and security in the visitor.

The primary targets for the “Namaskar” promotional drive should be those in the frontline of interaction, such as Taxi, Auto-drivers, Delhi Tourism buses, Porters at airports, bus stands and railway stations, staff at hotels and restaurants.
At the secondary level would be those manning tourist-related places like emporiums, shopping centres, tourist sites, local tourism departments, government offices, guides, tourist police, travel agents and tour operators.

School students should be encouraged to greet one another by saying “Namaskar.”
Delhi Tourism should take up the initiative with the private sector, hotel management colleges and schools to promote the Indian way of greeting.
Non-governmental organisations could organise training programmes for volunteers.

A poster campaign to create greater awareness by greeting with “Namaskar” would help enhance “visitor experience.”
Posters declaring “Welcome to Delhi – Namaskar” and “Dilli Mein Aapka Hardik Swagat – Namaskar” with a picture of hands folded in greeting could be pasted on every auto-rickshaw.
This would also help add visibility to the message all over the metropolis.

I look forward to the early launch of this “Namaskar” programme and offer my services to assist in this matter.

Warm regards

Mr. Anil Kumar Bhandari
Chairman
AB Smart Concepts

Letter to Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi on Street Vendors in May 2016

Hon’ble Chief Minister Kejriwalji,
Namaskar

The street food vendor plays a crucial role for the common man as he caters to their requirements. The government should ensure that people in Delhi get healthy, nutritious and fresh food from licensed street food vendors.
Generally one sees swarms of flies over exposed food, stalls located next to Metro stations, bus stops and markets. The vendors and their helpers are in filthy attire. Cooking and washing of utensils is done using dirty water.
The government should take strict action against unlicensed vendors and penalize licensed vendors who disregard health norms. Food inspectors should regularly inspect and monitor the standards of hygiene of the food vendors’ products.

I suggest that the Delhi Government, for the benefit of the general public, take the following measures:

Conduct a study to fix the number of vendors per market area prior to site allocation
Allocate food vending sites at specific locations which do not inconvenience pedestrians, cause traffic problems and increase pollution levels.
Permit only licensed vendors to occupy allotted space.
Keep pavements free of unlicensed vendors selling assorted goods such as flowers or cigarettes. It will add to the safety of pedestrians.
Vendors should not be allotted space in markets/areas where there are sufficient number of restaurants and food kiosks.
Encourage mobile food vans and trucks as they can cater to a larger number of people.
Specify areas where food vans and trucks can dispense food.
Provide water and electricity connections on chargeable basis.
Ensure vendors maintain high standards of personal hygiene and keep surroundings clean.
Food inspectors should take food samples regularly from vendors in different markets. They should destroy the food if not found fit for consumption.
Follow a zero-tolerance policy against unlicensed vendors.
I suggest training programmes to educate them on the importance of:

Using non-plastic food-grade crockery, cutlery and utensils for service, cooking and storage.
Cooking hygienically in clean utensils.
Storage of food to avoid formation of bacteria
Dispensing food hygienically.
Observance of personal hygiene of self and helpers.
Keeping surroundings clean and garbage disposal.
It is requested that the policy on street vendors be announced at the earliest and the suggestions given above be implemented.

Warm regards
Mr. Anil Kumar Bhandari
Chairman
AB Smart Concepts

Letter to Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Culture and Aviation in May 2016

Hon’ble Dr. Mahesh Sharma,

India has one of the world’s largest collections of classical and folk dances. The classical dance forms are Bharatanatyam (origin Tamil Nadu); Kathakali (Kerala); Kathak (north India); Odissi (Odisha); Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh); Mohiniattam (Kerala); Manipuri (Manipur); and Sattriya (Assam). These are generally solo performances.

Folk dances are group celebrations such as the energetic Bhangra and Giddha of Punjab, rhythmic Garba of Gujarat, fast-paced Lavani of Maharashtra, skirt-swirling Kalbelia and Ghoomar of Rajasthan, martial arts-like Chhau of Orissa, and festive Bihu of Assam.

For promoting our dance forms the Ministry of Tourism and Culture should showcase India as the leading country in the field of the performing arts. Projection of Indian classical dances as a form of rejuvenation of the mind, body and spirit would attract a large number of youth in India and from abroad.

I suggest that our classical and folk dance forms be marketed under the banner of “Incredible Dances of India.” The Ministry and other Government-funded institutions both at the Central and State Government level should plan a marketing strategy and organize festivals to promote Indian dances abroad so as to attract foreign talent to come to India to learn our traditional dance styles.

I suggest that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture organize a World Dance Festival in different states every year on fixed dates. Marketing and promotion of the Festival could be worked out on a PPP mode with the Government as a partner. Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji had brilliantly promoted the music of India to the world. Promoting our dance forms would help in promoting our culture as well as tourism to India.

I was involved with the ‘Festival of India’ for promotion of Indian cuisine in the USA at Washington and New York as also in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. I would be happy to assist in organization of the World Dance Festivals.

Warm regards
Mr. Anil Kumar Bhandari
Chairman
AB Smart Concepts

Hospitality Talk edition dated March 2016

‘Research will Take India to Next Level in Tourism’

The 6th India International Hotel Travel and Tourism Research Conference was jointly organized by the Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology and the Indian Hospitality Congress, from 10-12 February 2016 in New Delhi.

It was inaugurated by Anil Bhandari, Chairman, AB Smart Concepts and former Chairman and MD, ITDC, India, Prof. Ashish Dahiya, Head – Department of Tourism & Hotel Management, Central University of Haryana, Dr. Paolo Mura, Senior Lecturer & Programme Director of Postgraduate Programmes, Graduate School of Hospitality and Tourism, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts, Taylor’s University, Malaysia, and Prof. R. K. Bhandari, Principal, BCIHMCT & President, IIHTTRC on February 10 2016 at BCIHMCT, New Delhi. Various technical sessions comprising presentations of papers by delegates were a part of the conference.

In his speech Anil Bhandari congratulated Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology and said, “I think that there are very few institutes in the country which have done research in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. This is much required for development of the travel and tourism industry. It is important that we do research and zero down all the issues which will take our country to the next level in tourism. But if you look at the F&B industry, research can take India to much greater heights.”

He said, “If you look at the tourism scenario in the world, the number of tourists who travelled in 2014 was roughly 1,200 million, with an increase of 4.4% over 2015 when 1,200 million people travelled. Whatever is happening in the world, like in Thailand or in Egypt, in spite of all that people continued to travel.“

He said, “Tourism contributes 9.8% to the GDP of the entire world. This is the largest service sector in the world with great employment opportunities. If we look at the present scenario of India, we have close to 8 million tourists with an increase of 4.4% over the previous year but if you look at domestic tourism, it is close to 1,282 million people travelling during the year 2014 and there is 12% growth.”

“Government has taken many initiatives and I must congratulate the present government especially for taking tourism seriously. I think tourism can do a lot for India’s economic development. For example the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan which conveys and teaches very simple things like how to keep our tourist places, markets and neighbourhoods clean. This Abhiyan will go a long way if we all work towards it,” he said.

“Government can only give ideas. It is we who have to implement all these things. Cleanliness remains one of the major reasons why we don’t get many foreign tourists. While we get 8 mn tourists, China gets around 50-54 mn and so does France. Taking positive steps can trigger tourist arrivals in the country resulting in more employment for all of us,” he added.

“Also one of the long pending requests to the government, of building a Convention Centre, has now been resolved as DDA would be building a Convention Centre in Dwarka. After Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi doesn’t have a single Convention Centre today, which is surprising. If we need to promote the MICE business, Convention Centres in the country should accommodate 8,000-10,000 people. This will bring considerable business to the country. Malaysia and Singapore, for example, have big Convention Halls resulting in more MICE business coming to them.”

He said. “The Incredible India campaign is superb but do we have the incredible product? That can only be done by all of us. We can give incredible hospitality to all the visitors. I see people saying ‘Namaste’ in most of the hotels but it’s not happening on the public areas. When I go abroad I see people like taxi drivers, shop-keepers greeting their customers in their national language but that doesn’t happen here,” he continued.

“If you look at hotel accommodation, presently we have 200,000-plus rooms and expect another 100,000 rooms by 2018. If we compare that with the 125,000 rooms of Orlando city in the USA, we are lagging behind. There are plenty of our heritage and products that we can offer to our guests. But those are not exploited. If we look at Singapore and other destinations like Malaysia, they have created products for tourists. We have the Andaman & Nicobar Islands but facilities for tourists are not there. Accommodation in the county is not adequate,” he concluded.

Mumbai Messenger edition dated 4-10 February 2016

A MILESTONE ACHIEVED: CHEFS FRATERNITY HAILS GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE

By Sitaram Mewati

A long awaited dream of Indian chefs is fulfilled. A new chapter has been added to Padma Awards this year namely Culinary. Chef Imtiaz Qureshi, the legendary Indian chef has been selected for the inaugural category of Padma Shri awards at this year’s Republic Day.

Chef Imtiaz Qureshi is a force to reckon with. A mobile encyclopedia on Lucknowi cuisine, Grand Master Chef of ITC Hotels and internationally famous for his Dum Pukht culinary creations, it is the first time a professional chef has been recognized with a Padma award.

The award is a trendsetter for the community of chefs as the eminent people honoured with the highest civilian awards for their contributions in various disciplines this year now include the “Arts (Chef)” category as well. The President of India has announced the list of 112 eminent people for their contributions in various disciplines like art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. for conferment of this highest civilian award.

Manjit Gill, Corporate Chef, ITC Hotels congratulating Chef Qureshi on this highest achievement, said “It is a great achievement for the chef fraternity. It is a clear message to serving and aspiring chefs that cooking is an art and science and they are artist and scientist. The Government has recognized their talent and started a new chapter. The fittest can rise and achieve the target. This is a beginning and surely chefs could fetch higher awards like Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan in this category too. A “highly skilled chef” has got the recognition he deserved. “The selection of Chef Qureshi is absolutely the right reflection of recognizing a skill”.

Anil Kumar Bhandari, veteran hotelier and former MD India Tourism Development Corporation and Hotel Corporation of India said “The Padma Shri award is a trendsetter for the community of chefs. Indian culinary art has received national significance with this landmark honour.

Nomination of the “Chef” category in the Padma Shri awards list has fulfilled a longstanding demand of mine. I have been pursuing the cause of Chefs for the past few decades. I have been promoting the cause of honouring deserving Chefs with Padma awards for the past nine years to concerned Tourism Ministers.”

He adds “A chef is an important person in our daily life. A chef’s multifaceted role includes being an artist, a scientist, a financial analyst and a human resource development manager. His role is no less than that of an artist exhibiting his works or a sportsman playing for his country, both categories being included in the Padma Shri awards nomination list.

Chefs play a crucial role in the Food & Beverage industry, setting remarkable standards in the art of cooking. He is in the forefront in many spheres including hotels, at social gatherings and functions, and in providing extensive catering in industrial enterprises, commercial and educational institutions.

“The potential of the Food & Beverage industry is significant. The Restaurant industry is worth about Rs. 250,000 crore and is likely to grow to Rs. 480,000 crore by 2018, as per the NRAI Annual Report. The industry is seven times bigger than the Hotel industry and 24 times bigger than Bollywood” he added.

Sanjeev Kapoor, celebrity chef says “As a chef I kept on pursuing that chefs should be given recognition for their work. It’s better late than never that this award has been constituted for chefs. I always believe that food as an art form is unique in many ways. Food, when created at its highest form, appeals to all five senses at once. Textures, flavours, colors and aromas all have to play a role in a successful dish. The intricacies do not end here. Marrying the perfect balance of unique flavours and textures is the most sought after accomplishment of a given dish”.

He adds, to clarify the role of chefs and why they should be given Padma awards, “I am a chef for more than two and half decades. I have been called many different things by different people: an artist, a craftsman, a visionary and at times a cook. Now I feel happy that the government has recognized the chefs’ caliber and initiated the Padma awards for them. But still there are miles to go for achieving higher categories of the Padma awards like the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan in the years to come”.

Hospitality Biz edition dated October 2015

EXPERT SPEAK

HOTELS NEED TO ADOPT CEASEFIRE ON PRICE WAR OR FACE DOOM

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Indian Tourism is thriving. The number of international and domestic tourists is proliferating. Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the month of July 2015 were 0.63 million as compared to FTAs of 0.56 million in the same period in 2014, marking a growth of 11.3%. In the year 2014 FTAs were 7.46 million marking a growth of 7.1% as compared to FTAs of 6.96 million in 2013.

There has been a substantial growth in the number of Domestic Tourist Visits (DTVs), with 1145 million DTVs in 2013, a 9.6% growth rate over 2012, As per the 12th Five-year Plan Tourism is expected to grow 12% per annum.

Then why is the Hotel industry said to be in recession? The private sector is not investing in development of hotels because of the high cost of land as well as non-availability of approved land in most cities and around places of tourist interest. Commercial land needs to be converted for hotel construction which is time-consuming and costly. Other reasons are restrictive building norms/byelaws, long procedures and multiple clearances. In addition the hotels are waging a price war and under-selling.

Most big real estate developers like DLF, Unitech, Parsvnath, Ansals, Hiranandani and others have decided not to build hotels. The main reason is that they are not getting the return on investments as was earlier projected. Many hotels in Aerocity and NCR such as MGM, Hyatt, Novotel and Pullman have not completed their projects. However, India is on the threshold of an economical revival as India ranks 7th globally in terms of GDP at current prices and is expected to grow at 7.5% in 2016.

With its bold initiatives the NDA Government has taken significant steps in improving the economy. The gross domestic product (GDP) is Rs 106.4 trillion, a growth rate of 7.3% as against Rs 99.21 trillion in 2013-14.

Economic activities which witnessed significant growth were ‘financing, insurance, real estate and business services’ at 11.5% and ‘hotels, trade, transport, communication services’ at 10.7%.

To achieve the Ministry of Tourism’s vision of 11 million FTAs by 2017, that is 1% of the world’s tourism share initiatives such as the Rs. 500-crore HRIDAY (Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana) for 12 cities have been launched besides a few more such schemes. Stakeholders are keenly awaiting the National Tourism Policy 2015 which offers additional ‘tourism products’ and a definite roadmap to achieve that target.

Given the fact that the NDA Government considers Tourism as a key focus area for the country‘s development, hoteliers anticipate other initiatives to include the long-awaited infrastructure status, incentives to develop tourist destinations and expansion of the recent extension of electronic visa on arrival scheme to people from 77 countries to 150 countries. During January-May 2015, a total of 1,10,657 tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 9,841 during the same period in 2014, registering a growth of 1024.4%. The growth was due to introduction of e-Tourist Visa for 76 countries as against the earlier TVoA scheme for 43 countries.

An increase in the number of foreign and domestic tourists has led to a rate war, a competition in the Hotel industry. Inevitably, in a bid to gain business this has resulted in a decline in average room rates (ARR). Presently a 5-star hotel room is being sold at Rs. 4,500-5,000 and a 5-star deluxe hotel room from Rs. 10,000-15,000, the rate difference between the two being 50%.

Hotels have dropped rates and taken loss-making decisions in an attempt to gain business. The rate war has led to hotels, even globally recognized brands, to provide freebies like free transportation from airport, wi-fi, breakfast, complimentary bottle of water, wine, welcome drink, etc. The losses could be curbed if such freebies were stopped.

It is heartening to note that many hotels in Delhi and Gurgaon have occupancy of 65% and above. But on the other hand, ARR for hotels in Aerocity, Dwarka and Gurgaon for 5-star deluxe hotels is Rs. 7,000-8,000 and 5-star hotels Rs. 3,750-4,500. It is high time 5-star hotels end the war on prices and increase their rates to at least minimum Rs. 6,000 which will be 40% less than the 5-star deluxe hotels.

Another department where hotels continue to offer discounted rates and undergo losses is the Banquets division. Five-star deluxe and 5-star hotels either do not charge for rental, or even if they do, charge negligibly. Even the food charges are modest, ranging from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 4,500.

On the other hand, private caterers organize banquets, especially weddings, with tented, air-conditioned halls, and charge rentals of Rs. 32 lakh and more while farm houses charge rentals from Rs. 5 lakh onwards. In addition, they charge separately for food and a good quality menu can cost Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 4,000 per head. It is time that 5-star and 5-star deluxe hotels increase their Banquet rates.

Hotels resorting to charging less, offering freebies and giving discounts in order to gain clientele does not spell good business in the long run. Most of the newly-built hotels are facing financial problems as they are unable to pay the interest and principal loan amount resulting in banks taking over the properties. It is time the price war is stopped or else they will be heading towards their doom

TourismFirst edition dated April 2015 issue

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Pioneer edition dated April 3, 2015

AN EASY WAY OUT

After spending four decades in the hotel industry, Anil Bhandari has come up with a book on long lost recipes from across the country. He tells Shrabasti Mallik that it is the first step in documenting the unique food traditions of India Going around the world and tasting food, flavours and cuisine from every country is what Anil Bhandari lives for. In over 46 years as a hotelier, he has accumulated knowledge on food from every corner of the world. His first cook book Top Chefs Top Recipes, launched recently at Ashoka Hotel, reveals some secrets and facts that he accumulated.

“I am a connoisseur of good food. I have travelled extensively and have developed an appreciation for food from all corners of the globe. This book is a compilation of recipes with a view to share the knowledge on the process of converting ingredients into appetising and delicious dishes,” said Bhandari, the chairman of AB Smart Concepts.

Lack of well-documented book on Indian cuisine inspired him to put the book together. He shared that India does not have a definitive compendium of recipes like the legendary Frenchman Georges Auguste Escoffie’s Le Guide Cilinaire published in 1903. “That book continues to be used as major reference, both as a cookbook and as a textbook on cooking all across the world,” he added.

In his long career, the self-proclaimed foodie has witnessed a change in the fine-dining industry. He shared that during the Asian Games, he along with his fellow chefs created a different menu to compete with one of the coffee shops at a five star hotel (Machan at Hotel Taj Mansingh). The menu that they created had honey bunch, which was strawberry milkshake, sweetened with honey. He recalled, “We also created fruit delight, a concoction of juices and fruits and also pussycat, a colourful layered drink prepared with Rooh Afza, mango juice, pineapple juice and an aerated drink.”

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The Nawab kebab, a specialseekh kebab served on a bed of rice with mutton curry gravy, is a common delicacy now but it was created by Bhandari and chefs at different Ashoka Hotels to experiment with popular dishes and present something new.

He shared, “We also took the initiative and introduced combo meals such asNawab kebab,rajma rice and vegetable au-gratin with rice cooked in curry sauce.” Not many would know that he is also the brain behind the popular dessert ice cream sandwich. With the book, Bhaduri wants to reach out to people with diverse flavours and unique cooking techniques of India.

All recipes in the book are easy to cook. Most of the recipes, Bhaduri mentioned, are those that were served to prime ministers and presidents at the state banquets held at the Hyderabad House. “We served traditional Indian cuisine to visiting foreign dignitaries. I remember serving Prince Charles, too,” reminisced Bhaduri who believes that a large number of Indian dishes are yet to be documented and they remain confined to remote pockets across the country. “This is only a drop from the culinary ocean that is India. This was all I could fit into this book and it took me about a year to put everything together. I will start on another book shortly,” he concluded.

Wonderlust edition dated March 23, 2015

Dr. Mahesh Sharma unleashes ‘Top Chefs Top Recipes’ book by Anil Bhandari

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Wonderlust Bureau

The book of Anil Bhandari on ‘Top Chefs Top Recipes’ was released by Chief Guest Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Civil Aviation at The Ashok.

S.K. Misra, Chairman, Indian Trust for Rural Heritage Development; Dr. Lalit K. Panwar, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Industrial Production & Promotion, Government of India addressed the event. Other dignitaries present at the ceremony included Harsha Bhatkal, Publisher of Popular Prakashan, world renowned Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Chef Davender Kumar, President, Indian Culinary Forum and many other eminent chefs.

Speaking on the occasion Anil Bhandari, Author of the book & Chairman, AB Smart concepts said, “The compilation is dedicated to ‘all the chefs of Hotels & Restaurants of India,’ specially of the Ashok Group of Hotels and Centaur Group of Hotels, and is a means to compliment renowned Indian master chefs who prepared these recipes. I am thankful to the entire food & Beverages industry without their support such a splendid book would not have been possible.”

E Turbo News edition dated March 25, 2015

BY ANIL MATHUR, ETN INDIA CORRESPONDENT

INDIA (eTN) – India Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma has stressed the need to pay greater attention to food safety issues to get the best out of the growing cuisine and food industry, which has led to new chefs and recipes coming on the scene.

The Minister was speaking at The Ashok Hotel New Delhi at the launch of the new book by Anil Bhandari, Top Chefs Top Recipes, published by Popular Prakashan.

The book has recipes by famed chefs and draws on the 44 years of experience of Bhandari, whose role in promoting the chefs and cuisine culture was lauded by the many speakers at the book launch, including Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Chef Davender Kumar, Secretary of Tourism Lalit Panwar, and S. K. Misra, Chairman, Indian Trust for Rural Heritage Development.

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Anil Bhandari said that the book aims at reaching the common people who can try out the recipes at home that are listed in the book. This is Bhandari’s second book; the first one was on tourism. He has been head of ITDC, Hotel Corporation of India, Travel House, Interstate Hotels, and has been pioneering in seeing that chefs get their due.

There is also a section on spices, listing their medicinal value. Over 100 recipes from all over India have been included in the well-produced book.

Hospitality Biz edition dated March 20,2015

By HBI Staff | New Delhi

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Anil Bhandari’s book – ‘ Top Chef Top Recipes – was released by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism and Culture, in New Delhi.

The book has over 100 recipes from all parts of the country. Besides recipes, the book has sections for Indian masalas, spices, tips on table decoration and etiquettes of food service.
The book was released at a ceremony held at The Ashok Hotel New Delhi which was attended among others by Dr Lalit Panwar, Secretary-Tourism, Government of India; Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, SK Misra, Chairman, Indian Trust for Rural Heritage Development, etc.

Releasing the book, Dr Sharma said that India’s food and culinary traditions forms part of Indian identity and we need to promote it for the benefit of tourism.
Complimenting Bhandari for authoring a book on Indian recipes, the Minister said that “sharing of wisdom” by visionaries would go a long way in motivating generations.

Bhandari who was former Chairman & Managing Director of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) has to its credit 45 years of experience in the travel and hospitality industry. This is his second book, first being ‘Tourism in India: An Economic Activity’.

Speaking on the inspiration to write a book on recipes, Bhandari said that he always carried passion for food as well as cooking food himself.
“Knowledge of food and beverage is very important for a hotelier. Chefs cook food, but somebody has to approve it.” He himself worked as a Chef in Germany and done kitchen planning for many hotels in during his career. When asked about the approach of the book, Bhandari said that the focus was to explain recipes in a “simple and straight” way so that a layman can cook food using these recipes. “Ultimate aim of the book is to promote Indian cuisines worldwide,” he said.

Musafir Nama India- Travel & Tourism edition dated March 25, 2015

Tourism minister wants best from cuisine industry

India Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma has stressed the need to pay greater attention to food safety issues to get the best out of the growing cuisine and food industry, which has led to new chefs and recipes coming on the scene. The minister was speaking at The Ashok Hotel New Delhi at the launch of the new book by Anil Bhandari, Top Chefs Top Recipes, published by Popular Prakashan, reports ETN. The book has recipes by famed chefs and draws on the 44 years of experience of Bhandari, whose role in promoting the chefs and cuisine culture was lauded by the many speakers at the book launch, including Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Chef Davender Kumar, Secretary of Tourism Lalit Panwar, and S. K. Misra, Chairman, Indian Trust for Rural Heritage Development. Anil Bhandari said that the book aims at reaching the common people who can try out the recipes at home that are listed in the book. This is Bhandari’s second book; the first one was on tourism. He has been head of ITDC, Hotel Corporation of India, Travel House, Interstate Hotels, and has been pioneering in seeing that chefs get their due. There is also a section on spices, listing their medicinal value. Over 100 recipes from all over India have been included in the well-produced book.

Press Information Bureau, Govt. of India photo dated March 26, 2015

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The Minister of State for Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma addressing the distinguished gathering on the release of Shri Anil bhandari’s book titled ‘Top Chefs Top Recipes’ at The Ashok, New Delhi on March 19 2015. Seated (from L to R) are Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Shri Anil Bhandari, Shri S.K. Misra, Chairman Indian Trust for Rural Heritage Development, and Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Dr. Lalit K. Panwar.

Gadget Today Biz edition dated March 20, 2015

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Anil Bhandari’s book ‘Top Chefs Top Recipes’ released

Posted by Gadget-Today | Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2015 04:04:00 GMT |

Anil Bhandari’s book ‘Top Chefs Top Recipes’ released.
Besides recipes, the book has sections for Indian masalas and spices.
Anil Bhandari said that he always carried passion for food as well as cooking food himself.

Launch of Mr. Anil Bhandari’s Cookery Book ’Top Chefs Top Recipes’ on 19 March 2015

“Prospects of India as a culinary destination are bright. Our cuisines need to be promoted within the country and abroad. It is time the Government takes the initiative to organize food and cultural festivals,” said Mr. Anil Bhandari at the release of his book ‘Top Chefs Top Recipes.

The book was released on 19th March 2015 at the Ashok Hotel, New Delhi by the Chief Guest Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, who in a very short span has taken crucial decisions to promote Indian Tourism and Culture with the expansion of the Electronic Visa system for 150 countries and the recent laying of the foundation stone of the Indian Culinary Institute at NOIDA.

Mr. S.K. Misra, whose effort to preserve and develop India’s rural arts, culture and heritage is commendable, and Dr. Lalit K. Panwar, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, whose expertise in the field of tourism is considerable, were the Guests of Honour on the occasion. Other distinguished guests on the dais were Mr. Harsha Bhatkal, Publisher Popular Prakashan and the world renowned Chef Sanjeev Kapoor.

Mr. Bhandari explained “A lot of Governments of foreign countries are promoting their cuisines in India by sending their Chefs to train Indian Chefs and market their food products The New Zealand High Commission invited our Chefs for a food demonstration and also invited chefs to visit their country. The Canadian High Commission hosted Chefs to promote their cuisine. The French held a food festival recently across the world and invited 48 Indian Chefs.”

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, paying compliments to Mr. Bhandari for sharing his knowledge and wisdom with others, said after its opening, the Indian Culinary Institute needed the help, guidance and advice of visionaries like Mr. Bhandari. Chefs deserved to be honoured with Padma Shri awards he assured following a request made by Mr. Bhandari.

As part of formulating a new National Tourism Policy, the Minister of Tourism said he would soon call for a meeting of former Tourism Secretaries for brainstorming sessions to decide on policies related to Tourism and Civil Aviation.

The Hon’ble Minister said that food safety and standards regulations were introduced to check food adulteration and contamination. Preventing pollution, consuming fresh products and being health conscious were a part of preventive healthcare measures. He advised the Chefs present at the occasion to have the desire to excel and conduct research as development of new products would lead to advancement of the profession.

Dr. Lalit K. Panwar said work on the Indian Culinary Institute would start shortly and suggested that Mr. Bhandari could play the role of Advisor and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor as Visiting Professor. Chefs, practitioners of the culinary arts, were gifted persons like other artistes and although being honoured with National Tourism Awards they to deserve to be honoured with the Padma awards as well.

The book is Mr. Bhandari’s way of complimenting the master Chefs of India and promoting cuisines from all corners of India. Elaborating on the contents of ‘Top Chef Top Recipes,’ Mr. Bhandari said the book opens with the Masalas of India, giving details and benefits of the medicinal values of spices. This is followed by Soups and Starters, specialities being Broccoli and Walnut Soup followed by Murgh Daraanpur, Kallan Kababs.

The main dishes have specialities from North South, East and West, dishes like Lauki Nazakat, Nadru Yakhni, Laziz Pasliyan, Gosht aur Mirchi ka Saalan, etc. There is a wide variety of Rice and Breads, such as Chilman Biryani, Bakarkhani and Anda Paratha. Sweets and desserts include Lavang Latika, Malpua and Shahi Tukre. Photographs of some dishes are very attractive. The book also describes how to lay the table and the protocol of service.

Mr. S.K. Misra emphasized on the need to give greater importance to Chefs and the role they play in society. He praised the Chefs of India as incomparable and illustrated his praise with personal anecdotes. Praising Mr. Bhandari for promoting Indian cuisine, Mr. Misra said the Chef was the most important element in the Hotel sector and creation of the Indian Culinary Institute was an important development in the Food & Beverage industry.

Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor, a prolific writer, said every successful Chef gave credit to Mr. Bhandari’s firm resolve to raise standards higher, conduct research and create new dishes. ‘Top Chefs Top Recipes’ was Mr. Bhandari’s first book but it would not be his last.

‘Top Chefs Top Recipes’ showcases recipes of some dishes served to visiting Presidents, Prime Ministers and other dignitaries at banquets hosted during his tenure at Ashok Hotel and Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Among the over 100 recipes in the book are some of his favourites, said Mr. Bhandari who is Chairman of AB Smart Concepts, a consultancy company for Hotels, Travel and Tourism.

Mr. Bhandari is highly qualified to author this book, published by Popular Prakashan, as he has a keen interest in the promotion of Indian cuisine and has had a distinguished career of 46 years in the Hospitality industry as Advisor ITC Ltd. Hotels, Travel, Tourism, Real Estate, Chairman of India Tourism Development Corporation, Managing Director of JHM Interstate Hotels, International Travel House, and Hotel Corporation of India.

On a nostalgic note, Mr. Bhandari said Ashok Hotel held a special position for him as this was where he started his career as a management trainee and left as Chairman and Managing Director of the Corporation. His first book ‘Tourism in India – An Economic Activity,’ related to Tourism and the Hospitality industry in India, was also launched here.

Among the distinguished guests were Mr. S.S.H. Rehman, Director ITC Limited; Mr. Asaf Ibrahim, former Director Intelligence Bureau; Mr. Brahm Dutt, former Chairman Ministry of Surface Transport; Mr. V.K. Mathur, former Chairman Airports Authority of India; four former Chairmen of ITDC, two of them being the Guests of Honour and Mr. M.S. Manchanda and Mr. R.S. Jolly; Mr. V.K. Arora, Chairman Daawat; Mr. Naveen Jain, Chairman Duet Hotels; Mr. Vilas Pawar, CEO Choice Hotels and Mr. Sandeep Kohli of Max.

Some of the eminent Chefs present were Chefs Davender Kumar, C.S. Jain, Shishir Saxena as well as Saurabh Saxena and Rajiv Chopra both of whom had decorated the buffet table artistically. Senior Executive Chef Arti Thapa of Hoshiarpur Food Craft Institute enchanting sugarcraft decorations were admired by all.

Explore Rural India, January 2015 issue

Indian Heritage and Cuisine

Anil Bhandari, Chairman, AB Smart Concepts

India is a country with an ancient 5,000-year-old heritage which has survived the passage of time and continues to enrich our rich traditions and resplendent history. Developments in the fine arts, cultural inheritance, social folklore, religious customs, culinary adaptations and other factors over the centuries kept pace with the changing times. The influence of Time is out of our control but conservation of India’s heritage is in our hands.,/

One such precious factor, part of our daily life, is India’s regional cuisine. The various regional styles of cooking have evolved over the centuries. Availability of spices used in the cooking process depends upon the geographical location and provision of ingredients used is based on the local climate. Lack of documentation of regional recipes was the result of the “word of mouth” tradition followed by most chef families in previous generations and is prevalent even today.

Preservation of India’s culinary heritage is necessary for which research and documentation is crucial as it acts as a link binding India’s varied cultures, manifold arts, multifaceted societies, different religions and vast regions.

Geographically, India extends from the snowbound Himalayan peaks in the north to the centrally located near-tropical agricultural plains, desert region in the west and coastal regions in the east, west and south. The cuisine can be divided into four regions, the North, South, East and West. Each region has its heritage cuisines. Foreign culinary influences affected local preparations and tastes.

The regional cuisines adapted themselves, over the centuries with cuisines introduced by the Arabs, Moghuls and Europeans such as the Portuguese, French, British, and others. One of the reasons the foreign adventurers chose to visit India was cuisine-related, to trade in our exotic spices.

The culinary legacy of the royal courts where chefs innovated, researched, borrowed from other kitchens, was the product of inspired patronage. The chefs specialized in individualistic styles that even today their legendary preparations are known by the name of the kingdom or style of cooking. Besides their cultural and architectural symbols, their haute cuisine lives on for posterity.

The essence of Indian cooking lies in a number of factors. The cooking utensil are made of clay, iron, copper or brass, the specific shape and thickness of the utensil factoring the dish to be prepared in it. The different types of fuel used, ranging from wood, charcoal, hard coal or the prevalent use of gas, controls the time allotted for the preparation of the dish, whether the juices need to be cooked on a slow, medium and fast fire.

The cooking medium is another crucial element as it adds to the flavor and appearance of the dish. Different mediums are used in different parts of the country, such as ghee in the north, mustard seed oil in the east and coconut oil in the south. Cholesterol-free oils used today do not give the same flavor and aroma although they are good for the health-conscious.

Addition of the spices during the preparation process at a specific stage enhances the basic flavors and aromas of the dish. Ingredients for the spices may vary from dish to dish, region to region and season to season. At times the spices are roasted and powdered and known as masala. Chefs protect their masala combinations as trade secrets. Thanks to the knowledge left behind in the Ayurvedic text books, spices are known for their preventive and remedial medicinal values.

All regions have their special spice combinations or masalas. South Indians use “gunpowder” as an accompaniment and Hyderabadis use a potli or bouquet garni of spices in a muslin bag. Bengalis have panch phoron or five spices and Kashmiris use vari or dried garam masala paste.

Dum Pukht, Mughlai and the Kashmiri Wazwan are among the cuisines of North India which deserve the heritage title. Dum Pukht, of Persian origins, was made famous by Awadh’s ruler, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. It is said that the king was enchanted by the aroma emanating from the biryani being cooked at a community kitchen. He sent his chefs to find the reason. This resulted in the discovery of the process of food cooking in its own steam in a sealed utensil over low heat. Dum Pukht or Awadhi cuisine is famous in India and known internationally as well. Other Awadhi creations were the melt-in-your-mouth variety of Galouti and Kakori kebabs.

The inventiveness of the Awadhi chefs was legendary. One of them specialized in shaping almonds resembling grains of rice. Another breathtaking Awadhi royal dessert which is still available is Nimish. In the winter months dew is collected before dawn, whisked into double cream till it turns frothy. Saffron, rosewater and diced pistachio nuts are added to this light-as-a-cloud brief shelf-life dessert which is compared to the “moon shedding poetic tears.”

The aromatic richness of Mughlai cuisine or “food fit for kings” is unique. Ingredients for the gravy of some preparations like Murgh Noorjehani, Nargisi Kofta, Shahi Kaaju Aalu, include cashew nut, and almond paste, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, poppy seed etc. The tandoori style of cooking, using earthen ovens heated with coal was brought by the Mughals and is still popular.

Kashmiri cuisine has its traditional Wazwan, a multi-course meal, and most of the dishes are made with lamb, chicken and fish. Saffron, nutmeg and mace is used in most preparations. The traditional number of courses for Wazwan is 36 which include, among other dishes, the non-vegetarian Gushtaba, Yakhni and vegetarian dishes such as the green-leafed spinach, Haaq and lotus root, Nadru. The custom of serving Kahwa, or green tea made with the addition of saffron, spices and almonds, is another traditional ritual.

Rajasthan’s palace cuisines are a class apart. When the maharajas returned after a royal shikar they feasted on exclusive spicy and dryfruit-rich non-vegetarian dishes made from deer and rabbit meat. With the ban on hunting, dishes such as Laal Maans, Anjeer Mutton, Kaleji ka Raita have continued to be part of the legacy of Rajasthan’s royalty. There are a variety of vegetarian dishes such as Daal-Baati-Churma, Gatta Curry, Sangri, prepared with the generous use of red chillies and turmeric, As a sweetener the delicate-tasting dessert, the Ghevar, and Alwar’s Kalakand or milk cake, like Rajasthan’s cuisine, is relished in north India.

The traditional cuisine of Punjab reflects the rugged characteristics of its populace. Home-made ghee or clarified butter is used generously for cooking and also as a garnish. Favourite non-vegetarian dishes include Tandoori Chicken, Kadhai Gosht, Amritsari Machhli and a few vegetarian specialities are Makki di Roti Sarson ka Saag combine, Kadhi Chaval, Daal Makhni and Chhole Bhature. Breads include Lachha Parathas and parathas stuffed with potatoes, radish, onions or cauliflower as well as tandoori rotis. Pickles made of mangoes, lemons, chillies are accompaniments to provide the zesty touch. Halwas of carrot, moong daal and suji are sweet favourites. Lassi or blended yoghurt, sweet or salted is a popular beverage.

South Indian cuisine is rice-based, mixed with lentils to make Dosas, Idlis, Vadas and Uththapams, with accompaniments such as Sambar and Rasam. Lemon rice, curd rice, tomato rice, tamarind rice are other finger-licking variations. The cuisines of the five South Indian states comprising Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have different flavors from their northern counterparts as they add dried red chillies, tamarind and coconut, either in milk or in desiccated form, during the cooking process. Seafood is common in the coastal regions and vegetable or lentil-based dishes in the interiors. A popular dessert is Mysore Pak.

Hyderabadi cuisine, also called Deccani cuisine, is a combination of Mughlai, Turkish and Arabic cooking methods with influences of the local cuisines. This sophisticated cuisine is a creation of the kitchens of the Qutb Shahi Sultans, followed by the Mughals and later the Nizams, known for their love of art, culture and rich food. The cuisine ranges from the Hyderabadi biryani, the non-vegetarian Mirchi ka Saalan, vegetarian preparations such as Baghare Baingan as well as the dessert Khubani ka Meetha, all of which are looked on as pearls in the Hyderabadi culinary crown.

Another heritage cuisine is that of Chettinad, located in the southern region of Tamil Nadu. This tradition-bound cuisine is famed for its pungent dishes which are prepared with freshly roasted and ground masalas comprising peppercorn, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, nutmeg, green and red chillies, etc. Addition of a liberal dose of black pepper, not chilli, makes the dishes spicy but not hot. Chettinad Chicken is a signature dish.

In the east, Bengal has a multi-culinary collection. Migration to this region from many corners of the country and the globe started with the Mughal rule in the 16th century and ended with the British Raj in 1947. But the Bengali was not swept away by all these cuisines. Proud of their cuisine, they relish their traditional Macher Jhol with Bhaat or fish and rice. Another significant item is the variety of sweets or Mishti such as Sondesh and Rosgulla.

The impact of Jain and Buddhist traditions over the centuries influenced the dominantly vegetarian cuisine of Gujarat. Most dishes taste sweet, salty and spicy, the intricate mix adding to the flavor and texture of the vegetarian fare. Fiery pickles and sour chutneys provide the tang to the taste buds. Farsan or snacks are available all over the world. A typical traditional Gujarati thali or meal consists of roti, dal, rice and shaak or vegetables, yoghurt, pickles and rice. Accompaniments can include beverages like buttermilk or Panna.

The fusion of the tangy, spicy food for four centuries, till their expulsion in 1961, with the Hindu, Christian and Muslim culinary trends is the Portugal’s unique contribution to Goa. Seafood such as Prawn Balchao and Crab Xacuti, and other food items generally flavoured with coconut, red chillies, kokum and vinegar, and even the desserts, such as the bebinka, ensures the continuity of the culinary legacy.

The finale to a feast is a choice of dessert or mithai. Chefs of the royal courts indulged to the extraordinary tastes of the nobility. New and imaginative sweet dishes were created by experimenting with shapes, colours, scents and ingredients. Halwa, Kheer, Kulfi, Falooda, Rabri, Malpua, Shahi Tukda are some classic examples that have continued to thrive. Sweets such as Barfis, Imartis, Gulab Jamuns are also offered as teatime snacks.

The practice of offering betel leaf or paan after a meal is a ritual that has been continuing since ancient times. The ritual includes the making of the paan, addition of sugar-coated, scented supari, saunf, ilaichi, gulkand and other additives based on the diner’s preferences.

The time for India to show its culinary heritage excellence to the world is not too far off. Preservation of India’s rich culinary heritage is possible with the functioning of the Indian Institute of Culinary Arts, the setting up of which I had proposed. Recognising the absence of a training ground to groom chefs of international standards the government accepted the proposal to set up a culinary arts institute with the Ministry of Tourism as the promoting body.

The national-level Institute would have major facilities like Research & Documentation, Culinary Museum, Patent and Legal cell, world-class resource centre, besides a regular Culinary Institute. Its four regional centres, in different parts of the country, would concentrate on research, development and training of regional cuisines.

Documentation and a standardized written text of Indian cuisines would provide “brand identity” and authentication of Indian recipes and enable international culinary institutes to include the subject in their syllabi. Then Awadhi, Mughlai, Hyderabadi, Bengali, Gujarati and many more regional heritage cuisines will attract foreigners to enjoy the real flavors of India.

(Explore Rural India is published by the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development)

Travel Biz Monitor, October issue

Required, a ‘Make in India’ world-class convention centre in New Delhi – Anil Bhandari, Chairman, AB Smart Concepts

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Though we are crossing frontiers of space exploration?with the recent mission to Mars?we have yet to find space for a convention centre large enough to accommodate over 2,000 pax. During the launch of the ?Make in India? campaign in New Delhi?s Vigyan Bhavan, the Prime Minister noticed that many attendees were left standing due to shortage of chairs.?Anil Bhandari, Chairman, AB Smart Concepts, raises the issue of creating world-class convention centres

On September 25, 2014, one day before he left for his first visit to the US as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi launched his ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign. The campaign, with plans to cut red tape, develop infrastructure, and make it easier for both global and domestic industrialists and investors to do business, is expected to turn India’s fortunes by turning the country into a global manufacturing hub.

A day earlier, India displayed its wealth of talented scientists and indigenous technological capabilities when it sent its homegrown mission, the Mangalyaan robotic probe, to Mars. Mangalyaan is one of the cheapest inter-planetary missions worldwide, and was successfully put into the orbit of Mars a day after its launch, setting another global record.

The launch of the ‘Make in India’ campaign was attended by leading global CEOs at New Delhi’s premiere Vigyan Bhavan plenary hall, which has a seating capacity of 1,200 delegates. Noticing that the hall was choc-a-bloc with the who’s who of the Indian industry and entrepreneurship, Modi stated courteously, “First of all, I would like to apologise. I have observed that various business leaders have to stand as there are not enough chairs; extremely sorry for the inconvenience.”

Four months earlier, on May 26, the day Modi was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the ceremony was attended by leaders of neighbouring SAARC countries and a distinguished gathering of over 4,000 guests, which included India’s richest corporate honchos, former presidents, parliamentarians, diplomats, foreign dignitaries, bureaucrats, the creamy layer of Hindu religious communities, and Bollywood celebrities. They withstood the humidity, using handkerchiefs to wipe their sweat, as the nearly 100-minute-long function was held outdoors on a hot and dusty May evening.

The ceremony highlighted a major shortcoming of the Indian capital—it does not have a meeting or convention centre large enough to accommodate more than 2,000 pax. This is despite the many occasions of pomp and show that come its way. The centrally-located Ashok Hotel Convention Centre can accommodate 2,000 pax, while the Taj Palace hotel can seat 1,000 pax.

The Indian capital needs a world-class convention centre even larger than the state-of-the-art International Convention Centre at Hyderabad (HICC), which has a capacity of 5,000 pax and is the only unique one in India. A convention and exhibition centre is an important part of the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions/Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) segment of tourism. The tourism industry is a major revenue earner and generator of employment and MICE Tourism, a major constituent, is a niche product.

The mega convention centre, which had been approved at Dwarka, should be leased out to a private company with the condition that they should build it within three to four years. India Trade Promotion Organisation’s (ITPO) convention-cum-exhibition centre at Pragati Maidan should also be expedited. The Dwarka and Pragati Maidan convention centres’ decisions have been pending for the past eight to ten years and the building process of the two should be done immediately.

Delhi’s advantages as a MICE destination include its rich heritage, culture, historic monuments, a world-class international airport, a large number of hotels, transport, shopping and entertainment centres, besides infrastructural facilities to host mega events. Apart from these advantages, the creation of convention and exhibition centres would lead to rise in the market of exclusive international and national business hotels and resorts, with meeting rooms and a range of conference facilities and services that match international standards.

Efforts have been made to upgrade infrastructure and to establish state-of-the-art convention and exhibition facilities in India to tap the MICE market. HICC, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, B.M Birla Science & Technology Centre in Jaipur, Agra’s Jaypee Hotels & International Convention Centre, New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan and Pragati Maidan, and Cochin Convention Centre are India’s leading Convention Centres. Except for HICC, convention centres in other cities have a limited capacity of not more than 2,000 delegates, a major drawback in bringing MICE business to India.

My suggestion to the Modi government is to set up mega convention and exhibition centres at Delhi, as well as at popular tourist places such as Mumbai, Goa, Bengaluru, Agra, and Jaipur as each of these cities has their advantages in the promotion of the ‘MICE experience’.

HotelScapes, November 2014 issue

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Travel Biz India, November issue

NEWSTRACK

India should learn to recognize culinary artists: Amitabh Kant

Chef Richard Graham bestowed with Life Time Achievement Award at 11th Annual Chef Awards
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Speaking at the 11th Annual Chef Awards organized by Indian Culinary Forum (ICF) in Delhi, Amitabh Kant, Secretary – Industrial Policy & Promotions, Government of India said that while cooking is an “ultimate art of creativity” which is presented in an appealing fashion by dedicated Chefs, the country hasn’t learnt to recognize those artists in a fitting manner. He supported the cause for considering the Chefs for civilian ‘Padma’ awards. He asked the industry and the Department of Tourism to take up the case at the appropriate forum. Commenting on the unique values and culinary traditions of India, Kant said that while Indian cuisines have made some mark on the global stage, it hasn’t gone “the ultimate far” because of lack of promotions and marketing. He urged the Tourism Ministry to take steps to promote tourism through Indian cuisines. “India Tourism should partner with great Indian restaurants in cities like London and New York to promote India as a culinary destination,” he observed.

Chef Awards were presented in 16 different categories at the Annual Chef Awards by Dr Lalit Panwar, Secretary-Tourism, Government of India. Chef Richard Graham was honoured with Life Time Achievement Award for his over four decades of contributions to the culinary world as a Chef. Chef Graham started his chef career in 1968 and worked with reputed hospitality brands both within India and outside. He was Executive Chef at The Oberoi Mumbai and Corporate Executive Chef for ITC WelcomGroup. He also worked with international brands like Sheraton, Marriott, Le Meridien, Southern Hotel Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, etc. He also worked in Australia and Singapore for 15 years. Based in Bangalore currently, Chef Graham runs a boutique restaurant and his own consultancy services – RG Associates.

Speaking to Hospitality Biz after receiving the award, Chef Graham said that while he has won many accolades outside India, this award in the country is quit valuable. “It is nice people remembered me. I like being recognized. I have all along tried to fly the Indian flag wherever I went and tried to prove that we Indians are pretty good at whatever we do. I believe that I have been able to win accolades in life because of the strong training and grounding I had in this country,” he said.

Chefs who shared the top honours at the Awards included Chef Tarun Dacha, Corporate Chef, Sarovar Group (Golden Hat Chef Award); Chef Vaneet Wadhera, Corporate Chef, Golden Tulip Hotels (Silver Hat Chef Award); Chef Aarti Ghai, IHM Pusa (Lady Chef of the Year Award), Chef Jaideep Dutta, Le Meridien (Chef of the Year Award), etc.

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“It is a humbling experience to get recognized in this forum. It makes me more responsible to the profession as well as to the future generation. If this award can inspire some young minds to get into the profession and achieve heights, I feel the the goal is achieved,” said Chef Dacha.

Awards were also given to the winners of the trade test in various categories like International cuisine, North Indian cuisine, South Indian cuisine, Master Chef Kebabs, Master Chef Indian Sweets, International Confectionary, Master Baker, Master Chef Oriental Cuisine, Kitchen Artist Award, Student Chef of the Year, and Best Food Writer, etc. Arya Anil Ingley of IHM Pusa New Delhi was adjudged the ‘Student Chef of the Year’.

HotelScapes, October 2014 issue

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FHRAI Magazine, October 2014 issue

Invisible
Ingredients

A ban on foreign ingredients almost seems like going back to the prohibition era of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Many products are still available in the grey market, edging on the illegal supply chain. We spoke to chefs to find out the way forward in such a situation and their comments on the impending FSSAI Act.

FSSAI Act is a welcome move
Ο Anil Bhandari
Chairperson, AB Smart Concepts

The ban is justifiable if certain foreign ingredients do not conform to FSSAI standards. It may take time for barriers to be lowered when the producers of these ingredients conform to FSSAI set standards. The ban will definitely not impact the standard of the dishes produced.

The FSSAI Act is a welcome move as it will facilitate implementation of scientifically proven standards for all raw, processed and packaged food articles and with imposition of hygienic standards ensure availability of safe, healthy and good quality food to the Indian consumer.

Destination India, August issue

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HospitalityBiz July 2014 issue

Offload Govt. stakes in IHMs to improve quality

-Anil Bhandari, Chairman, AB Smart Concepts

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India has tremendous potential to become a major global tourist destination but the tourism industry, one of the major components of the service sector, has not received the importance it deserves to be given by the government.

Incredible India’s much-publicised 5,000-year-old history, access to exotic destinations, sun, sea and sand attracted only 6.8 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in 2013, a muted growth from 6.6 million in 2012, which was merely 0.64 per cent share of the 1.087 billion tourists who travelled worldwide last year.

During the 12th Five-year Plan (2012-17) the Ministry of Tourism has set the target to increase India’s share of FTAs to at least one per cent from the existing inadequate figure and to create additional employment of about 27 million in the tourism sector both direct and indirect.

The Planning Commission projected a growth rate of 12 per cent for the tourism sector during the 12th Plan. The number of FTAs and foreign tourist visits by the end of the 12th Plan is estimated to be 11.24 million. The number of domestic tourist visits by Plan-end is projected to be 1451.46 million.

The total number of jobs, direct and indirect, in the tourism sector in 2016 is likely to be 85 to 90 million as compared to 53 million in 2010. Therefore, creation of additional employment of a minimum of 27 million is anticipated during the 2010-2016 plan period.

In order to meet this demand of trained manpower, the government may have to think in terms of increasing the number of Institutes of Hotel Management (IHMs), Food Crafts Institutes (FCIs) and Travel & Tourism Institutes (TTIs) by 100 per cent. While to meet the demand of additional manpower, the private sector or the government would have to invest in the creation of new institutes. Private sector investment is not forthcoming due to the exorbitant cost of land for creation of an Institute thus making them non-profitable and return on investment taking a long time. The Central and State Governments presently have limited financial resources and it would, therefore, be difficult for them to create new Institutes.

Creating Additional Institutes

I have two suggestions for the creation of additional Institutes.

First, the government should offload equity by 49 per cent, granting management and control to the private sector, such as the Taj, ITC, Oberois, Lalit Marriott, Hilton, Starwood Group of Hotels and travel companies like Le Passage, MakeMyTrip, Yatra.com, Amadeus and Galileo, etc. The government should also invite other foreign hotel management schools and universities to buy equity and manage these institutes.

Since some of these Institutes are owned by the Central and others by the State Governments, there being 21 Central IHMs and eight State IHMs and five FCIs, I suggest the government set up a holding company and then offload the equity stake.

The income secured from the disinvestment of these Institutes could be re-deployed by the government for the upgradation of institutes and to create more institutes.

Improved quality of education by way of bringing in of latest technology, sharing of experience by foreign faculties, introduction of international standards of hygiene.

  • Entry of better qualified teaching staff as it is not possible for the government to pay higher salaries for teachers possessing higher capabilities and skills.
  • Provision of better-quality infrastructure, latest softwares, cooking and other equipment which presently is not being provided due to lack of funds.
  • Higher levels of employability of students, having been trained at these institutes in the latest systems and procedures.
  • Hotels will economise on time and money as they will not need to re-train the students.
  • Saving of foreign exchange as hotels will hire general managers and chefs from abroad.
  • Profit generated from these Institutes could be deployed in developing new institutes.

My second suggestion is that since the private sector is shying away from investing due to high cost of land, state governments should acquire land and give it on lease at reasonable prices for the development of Institutes through public-private partnership (PPP). The state governments can also work on joint ventures (JVs) with private entrepreneurs by having the cost of land as equity in the JV. This would help many hotel chains and travel and tourism companies in establishing new Institutes.

In addition, income generated through the lease could be re-invested in developing new Institutes. I had proposed the setting up an Indian Institute of Culinary Arts which was accepted after considerable persuasion. I suggest this Institute be developed in the PPP mode. Hence, my suggestion will be that the government seriously should think about the disinvestment and of giving land on lease for the setting up of new Institutes. In this way, the government could be a facilitator and a regulator for fostering growth in the hospitality industry

Chairman?s Letter to PM

The Chairman, Mr. Anil Bhandari sent congratulatory letters to the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, the Minister of Defence, Shri Arun Jaitley and the Minister of State, Ministry of Tourism, Shri Shripad Yasso Naik on their taking charge of their respective portfolios.

Mr. Bhandari enclosed in his letters his suggestions for the development of tourism. If implemented, he added, these would lead to generation of revenue, capacity enhancement and infrastructural development, all of which would act as a catalyst for the promotion of Indian Tourism in the international and domestic market.

The suggestions were published in Destination India magazine in the May 2014 issue with the headlines ‘BJP Gives Tourism Notable Push in Election Manifesto’ and ‘Agenda for New Government – Some essential first steps.’ (A copy of the articles is given below).

The Chairman also sent a mail through ‘Interact with the Hon’ble PM’ on Shri Narendra Modi’s website giving his suggestions in a summarized form as follows:

  • Congratulate govt. for considering Tourism as an economic activity
  • Build infrastructure by increasing hotel rooms
  • Double room capacity to meet demand
  • Land expensive, not available, not earmarked in Master Plans
  • Suggest create Tourism Parks at all important places of tourist interest
  • Surplus land available with Ministries of Railways, Defence
  • DIAL has created Hospitality district, 5,000 rooms in 50 acres, generates revenues by leasing, a good business model
  • Develop Convention, Exhibition centres, Amusement Parks
  • Cruise Tourism, develop infrastructure immigration
  • Develop manpower, create hotel, culinary and tourism institutes
  • Rationalise taxes uniformlty across states
  • Improve cleanliness, safety, security

Destination India magazine, May 2014 issue

– Anil Bhandari, Chairman, AB Concepts

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HospitalityBiz July 2014 issue

‘Hospitality a Casualty at Hospitals’
– Anil Bhandari, Chairman, AB Concepts

Internationally, India ranks fifth in Medical Tourism. Considering the scope and range of medical care available in the country, the hospital sector needs to do much more to attract a larger number of medical tourists. A holistic approach by hospitals would be to employ hospitality-trained managers which would help in promotion of healthcare standards thereby positioning India on a higher ranking than at present.

It is true that hospitality is a casualty at hospitals. Why do ‘five-star deluxe’ hospitals equipped with experienced specialists using modern medical technology and international standards of treatment lack in hospitality? Seeking medical care is a necessity at certain times and hospitals could provide a good personalised experience with the use of hi-tech personal care to improve the experience. Negative feelings that surface on the thought of entering a hospital could be turned into a positive mindset.

Positivity could be possible if doctors spent the maximum amount of time in conducting their assigned tasks while the smooth running of the administration is ensured through managers under the direction of the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, a person with a hospitality background. Hospitals, besides functioning as healthcare providers, should use their imagination and administrative skills more like hotel operators.

Room charges in some super-speciality hospitals exceed those charged by five-star hotels currently. Charges for a suite or room could be between Rs 20,000 to Rs 12,000 and at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where patients require higher standards of attention, the charges are even steeper. The high room charges do not take into account additional charges for consumables such as gloves, tubes and others as well as for all services rendered for the patient’s care.

From the time of the admission process to the allotment of a room takes anything from six to seven hours as a result of poor inter-departmental coordination. After the long wait, the patient is relieved when he is shifted into the room. It looks neat and clean and the bed is comfortable. But when the table lamp and the old-model TV refuse to function and the toilet flush does not work, poor maintenance shows up.

The attending doctors and nurses are efficient and polite but the patient-related services could do with some improvements. For instance, the constant chatter among the nurses could be a disturbing factor for patients in the ICU. Limitations in language result in patient-nursing staff communication gaps. To help salvage some of these issues a system of obtaining suggestions and feedbacks would help resolve common problems faced by the patients.

Medical attention and services are competent but the daily routine is followed without taking into consideration patient comfort. A former patient complained, “I was confined to a bed in the hospital. At 5 am an attendant would wake me to make sure I brushed my teeth. At 5.30 am another attendant came to give me a sponge bath and at 6 am the tea would arrive. Half an hour later, the bed sheets were changed and breakfast was served at 7 am. This would be followed by a series of tests and having the prescribed medicines. Doctors came on their rounds between 10 am to 11 am. There was hardly any time to relax.”

Later, in the post-recovery stages, the patient said that disturbances in the corridor such as staff exchanging gossip and moving of trolleys would keep him awake. The food, he recalled, would announce its arrival by the squeaking sound of its creaking wheels of the food trolley.

Another former patient said, “The dietician was a highly-trained professional and she discussed the day’s menu with me daily during my stay. But the quality of the food served was unappetising. The choice of menus was good but all the meals served had a bland taste. After mealtimes the food trays would not be cleared as a matter of routine due to lack of coordination.

The process of patient discharge and settlement of payment is time consuming. This is the result of following a traditional system of collecting data from various departments regarding room charges, consumables used, medicines given, and tests carried out among others. The patient’s attendants have to rush from one counter to another and chase the concerned doctors to collect their reports. A delay of a few hours in the patient’s discharge is unavoidable if the doctor is not on duty, and if the day of discharge happens to be a Sunday, a one-day wait is inevitable.

At the time of admission patients with medical insurance have to submit their validation card, insurance papers and ID. Awaiting discharge, a recovered patient said, “I have been waiting for the past six hours for the approval of my discharge approval documents. The hospital needs to have special staff to take care of medical insurance issues. I do not know how long it will take.”

Poor inter-departmental coordination is the reason for such a sorry state of affairs again. Submission of the bills and approval from the insurance company, if done on a daily basis with the help of departmentally interlinked computers, would save the recovered patient’s attendants from having to run from pillar to post and in the process save time for both parties.

“Use of the information technology such as iPads could be used for storage of data ranging from the patient’s medical records to prescribed medicines. This data can be fed into a centralised system accessible to the concerned doctors and the nursing staff. Relatives of the patient could also read relevant sections of this data by access to a password-protected website, as is the practice followed in the USA and Europe.

The centrally-fed data regarding each patient’s medicine and non-medical utilisation can be sent to the billing department for quicker submission of accounts at the time of the patient’s discharge. The computerised hospital information system should aim to offer services to the patients on par with the hospitality experience offered to hotel guests at the time of check-out.

Improved communication through obtaining feedbacks would make a hospital more comfortable for patients. Improvement of the physical environment would promote healing and raise the quality levels of service. The hospitality factors which need to be applied for patient care include software used by hotels, hotel-quality food, and prompt room service.

In the long run ‘five-star deluxe’ hospitals cannot depend only on their reputation of possessing hi-tech equipments and top class doctors. It is time hospitals consider themselves as “new entrants” in the hospitality business and plan to introduce hospitality consultants to streamline the hospital’s primary function of caring for patients. This would lead to creation of hospitality institute-trained “hospital managers” for overseeing and increasing efficiencies in the medical department’s patient-related paperwork and the administrative department’s operations concerning day-to-day operations of food services, front desk operations, accounting, waste management systems, room allotments, housekeeping functions and others.

Hospitality can co-exist in hospitals as well as in hotels as both primarily concentrate on taking care of their clients’ health and welfare. A holistic approach by hospitals would definitely lead to better results in caring for their patients.

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HospitalityBiz e-magazine January 2014 issue.

Chefs Deserve to be Honoured with Padma Shri awards:
Dr. Shashi Tharoor at 10th Annual Chef Awards 2013
Congratulating the organisers of the Indian Culinary Forum (ICF) for the grand event to honour chefs, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Government of India, said the event highlighted the role played by Chefs in the promotion of Indian tourism

Dr. Tharoor said Chefs had taken the country’s image to new heights. As the Chefs were artistes in their own way they also deserved to be honoured with national awards such as the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.

Addressing the celebrations of the ICF which hosted the 10th Annual Chef Awards 2013 at The Ashok in New Delhi on 23rd November 2013, the Chief Guest, Dr. Tharoor said Indian cuisine has created ripples worldwide as it had come a long way and grown dramatically.

Dr. Tharoor said our cuisine was a very important segment of Indian hospitality as a lot of importance was given to serving guests with special dishes during celebrations and festivals. As in ‘Atithi Devo Bhava,’ the guest in India is treated like a god who deserves to be honoured with special food.

The creation of Chicken Tikka Masala in Britain was an example of how wide the awareness of our cuisine had spread, said Dr. Tharoor. At the same time, the originating of an Indian dish in Britain showed how the “Empire strikes back.”

Mr. Anil Bhandari, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Chef Awards congratulated all the winners and had told Dr. Tharoor before his speech that Chefs were artistes and they also deserved to be honoured with national awards such as the Padma Shri. The Minister, in his speech, also said that Chefs need to be given National Awards like the Padma Shri.

Chef Devinder Kumar President of the Indian Culinary Forum spoke about how and why these awards were organised, the criteria for selection and about the International Chefs’ Day, Chef Awards and Chef & Child Charity Dinner, an annual event to recognize and honour Chefs and their contribution to the Hospitality industry and society at large. Chef M.S Gill President of the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations (ICFA) spoke about the activities of IFCA. Mr Amitabh Kant CEO, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor congratulated all the winners.

The gala Chefs’ Child Dinner is a contribution from leading hotels and restaurants and showcases dishes prepared by celebrity Chefs. Part of the proceeds are contributed to a charity organization.

Chef Award 2013 winners

Student Chef of the Year Megha Agarwal International Institute of Culinary Art
Kitchen Artist Chef Chittaranjan Jena Fortune Park Lake City Mumbai
Master Baker Chef Javed Alam Country Inn & Suites Sahibabad
Master Chef International Confectionery Chef Pawan Saxena Old World Hospitality
Master Chef Indian Sweets Chef Dharmender Old World Hospitality
Master Chef Kebabs Chef Govind Ram Arya Le Meridien
Master Chef International Cuisine Chef Kishan Singh Rawat Country Inn & Suites Sahibabad
Chef of the Year Chef Pankaj Kumar The Lodhi
Best Food Writer Ms. Hoihnu Hauzel freelancer
Master Chef S. India Cuisine Chef A. P. Girish Kumar The Ashok
Master Chef N. India Cuisine Chef Saurabh Sachdeva Radisson Blu Paschim Vihar
Master Chef Oriental Cuisine: Chef Anand Rawat Old World Hospitality

Chef Satish Arora who has been working for 46 years at the Taj Hotels was honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Chef Arora’s single most important contribution to the development of Indian cuisine abroad was to impart world class presentation techniques and rid it of the ‘curry powder’ syndrome.’

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai of the Olive Culinary Academy was presented with the Silver Hat Chef Award. Chef Saby, as he is popularly known, pioneered the concept of the tasting menu in India and the concept of cutting edge Japanese cuisine in India. This Award is another feather in his cap.

Special Awards were presented to Mr. Anil Bhandari, Chairman AB Smart Concepts and Mr. R. Kumar Chairman Continental Equipment for their promotion of the Chef Awards and the cause of Chefs, an issue for which they have worked unceasingly.

An Honorary Award was given for the late Mr. Charanjeet Chopra, an IHM Pusa graduate who launched Minar Restaurant, and was partner in Kake De Hotel for his contribution for 43 years to Indian cuisine. The award was collected by his son Mr. Inder Chopra, Director of Minar Restaurant.

Promoting India Through Cuisine Tourism:
Chef Summit 2013
For the first time, as part of the 10th International Chefs’ Day celebrations, the Indian Culinary Forum organized a Chef Summit at The Ashok in New Delhi on 23rd November 2013 as part of the 10th Annual Chef Awards 2013

Renowned chefs deliberated on various subjects at the Chef Summit which was attended by renowned Chefs, eminent members of the Hospitality industry and over 200 students of Hotel Management and Catering Institutes of Delhi.

Mr. Anil Bhandari, Chairman of the Organising Committee of Chef Summit and Chef Awards, welcomed Mr. Nakul Anand and other distinguished guests.

The Chief Guest, Mr. Nakul Anand, Chairman FAITH and Director ITC Ltd., said Indian spices such as pepper were used in ancient Rome and Greece. Indian cuisine has historical and geographical diversities which would not be totally understood by a foreign visitor.

Mr. Anand suggested that promotion of Indian cuisine to foreign tourists could be through ‘food sherpas’ as was being done by some South-east Asian countries where ‘food sherpas’ played the role of local food guides to visitors interested in the cuisine of that country. Persons with the knowledge of India’s varieties of cuisines could conduct food tours and become ‘food sherpas’ to foreigners interested in the vast range of cuisines. The Indian film industry could also showcase Cuisine Tourism internationally, he added.

There were four sessions with the topics: Cuisine Tourism – an Indian Perspective; Standardization of Indian Cuisine; Culinary Education in India; and Food Safety in India.

The Speakers were Chef Davinder Kumar, Chef Manish Mehrotra, Chef Arun Agarwal, Mr. Arun Chopra, Mr. Anil Bhandari, Chef Manjit Gill, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Mr. Zorawar Kalra, Chef V. S. Dutta, Mr. N. S. Bhuie, Chef Sudhakar Rao Director CAI, Chef Y. B. Mathur, Mr. Uday Kumar Saxena, Chef Vijay Nagpal, Chef Ajay Sood, and Chef Sabyasachi Gorai.

Mr. Bhandari, speaking on Standardization of Indian Cuisine said the reason for lack of standardisation of our dishes was because there was lack of recorded culinary documentation. Standardisation, he said it would lead to recognition nationally and internationally, give Indian Cuisine a “brand” identity and help Culinary Institutes and Hotel Management Institutes in the teaching of upcoming Chefs. This would also help in promoting authentic Indian cuisine across the world.

Chef Manjit Gill said there was a science in the purpose of choice of utensils and medium of heat used in preparation of Indian food. He wanted standardisation of kitchen equipment as that imported from the West was not suited for cooking Indian dishes. The historical perspective of Indian Cuisine must be understood and a timeframe needed to be fixed before standardisation as our cuisine had absorbed a lot of foreign influences.

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor said indigenous equipment and translation of ancient texts was necessary. He wanted ‘Indian food’ defined as it kept changing with the progress of time. The purpose of standardising recipes was for historical reasons, he added.

Mr. Zorawar Kalra said documentation was necessary as it ensured accuracy of weights and measures and be made the standard operating procedure for recording of recipes.

Culinary Education in India, said Mr. V.S. Dutta was in its infancy as industry awareness and knowledge sharing among culinary institutes and industry professionals was lacking. Technological upgradation was also vital for institutes to keep up with the latest trends.

Mr. N.S. Bhuie said priority should be given to culinary education as 500 million jobs would be created in the next 10 years and to meet the requirement 50 million people would have to be trained annually.

Chef Sudhakar Rao said core specialisation was not a high point during recruitment by the hospitality industry and culinary education was not being projected as a priority career presently.

Chef Y.B. Mathur said the road forward in culinary education was to encourage quality internship, remain contemporary, and evolve the curriculum and provision of lectures by specialist chefs.

Ms. Kandla Nuhowne complimented youngsters who chose to follow a Chef’s profession. A Master Chef award winner, she wanted the development of classic foods.

Speaking on Indian Perspective – Culinary Tourism, Chef Davinder Kumar said a lot more needed to be done to promote the cuisine as Cuisine Tourism had immense potential and its range was diverse.

Mr. Sourish Bhattacharya said the entire range of Indian cuisines should be promoted. He said a White Paper should result from the Chef Summit. Adding to this, Mr. Nakul Anand sought time-compressed packages for food-loving tourists visiting India. Mr. Anil Bhandari said as early as in the 1960s ITDC had helped promote Indian Cuisine abroad through the Festivals of India. He wanted more culinary-oriented programmes on TV as the medium had a vast reach globally.

Chef Arun Chopra said marketing Cuisine Tourism was essential through incorporation of innovative ideas such as providing visitors with local dining experiences because food-lovers also wanted to see the local culture.

Chef Arun Agarwal wanted the foreign visitors to be taken on a tour of markets selling vegetables, spices, fish, etc. Cuisine Tourism could be promoted through itineraries, resource shops and fixing of a yearly calendar for gastronomic events.

Chef Manish Malhotra wanted simplification of Indian recipes as they were considered too complicated. There should be greater awareness among Indians of the various cuisines of their country.

Mr. Uday Kumar Saxena spelt out the background of the Food Safety laws which have been made mandatory and the requirements of regulatory compliance by the entire range of the food service industry.

Chef Vijay Nagpal spoke on following personal hygiene, food safety practices and maintenance of quality of food from the time of preparation till service to the dinner.

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai highlighted the good practices to be followed during food preparation and pointed out to the negative aspects as well.

Guarding Against Food Spoilage and Wastage
Mr. Anil Bhandari writes that minimizing wastage at all stages in the food supply and processing chain needs more consideration, in an article printed in the Guest Column of the Cross Section Publications magazine HotelScapes issue dated September 2013

When the Green Revolution in the 1960s turned India into a food-surplus country from being a food-deficit one, the development of infrastructure for storage, transportation and processing of agro-food produce had not developed as much as it has today.

Food grain production galloped from 108 metric tonnes (MT) in 1970-71 to 130 MT in 1980-81 to 176 MT in 1990-91 and reached 245 MT in 2010-11. The percentage of wastage also kept pace resulting in loss of revenue and precious foodstuff. (Source: Planning Commission report)

The proverb ‘Waste not, want not’ would be relevant here. Steps need to be taken to limit wastage in the agricultural sector. Besides creating proper storage facilities nationwide in the vicinity of agricultural regions the other ways to cut down wastage of foodgrains, vegetables and other farm-grown products are construction of cold storage chains for perishables; use of refrigerated trucks for rapid transportation of produce from the farmers to the vendors; developing food processing industries situated close to agricultural areas for better utilization of the farm produce; and providing education and guidance to farmers on the choice of crop and the acreage they should assign to it.

The issue of spoilage and wastage exists in the hospitality industry as well. It could be in the form of storage, purchase of over-priced and stale foodstuffs, having non-standardized portions, and cooking more food than is necessary which results in leftovers.

The Pre-Cost Pre-control System of Food Accounting is a tool designed to make use of modern merchandizing practices in the restaurant field. Known as ‘Pre-Control’ in short, it is necessary to have operational basic controls prior to preparing the foundation for Pre-Cost Pre-Control System of Food Accounting.

These basic controls are competitive purchasing; receiving checks by quality, weight and quantity; requisition control over the store room; proper sales check storage and distribution, along with effective checking, cashiering, and proving of food register readings.

For Pre-Control to be used as an effective instrument it requires the coordination of the management, the executive chef, steward, maitre d’ hotel, head checker and the food cost accountant. This is because there are diverse aspects to be taken into account.

When Pre-Control is properly utilized it provides beneficial results. It promotes efficiency, provides sound sales data, coordinates purchasing and preparation, helps resolve merchandising problems in the menu structure and reduces over-preparation of food which results in leftovers.

As an education for the chef that the right quantity of food is cooked the leftovers of a buffet of a banquet; breakfast, lunch and dinner; live kitchen; or of a wedding party should be weighed and recorded. The statement of the extra amount of food cooked should be sent by the F & B controller to the executive chef and F & B manager who will point out to the chef about the extra food that was cooked. Of the leftovers, some of it is re-utilized, sent to the staff canteen or used to prepare stock. This is also a loss as the leftovers need to be refrigerated resulting in extra cost of power consumption and manpower costs.

A foolproof system for food control should comprise the following:

Purchasing Control
The quality of the food should be the best possible available and at the lowest available price, except when special considerations dictate otherwise in certain situations, for the quality and form. It should also be ascertained that the foodstuff received is in accordance with the established specifications.

Receiving Controls
Where standard purchase specifications are used one of the functions of the receiving clerk is to check all incoming supplies against the applicable purchase specifications. He should also, along with the chef or steward, inspect whether the merchandise is of acceptable standards and then label all perishable items to indicate the date of receiving them as well as the weight of the foodstuff, especially in the case of meat and poultry items for which a meat-tag register should be maintained.

The register should list the i) Serial number of the meat-tag ii) Date received iii) Type of cut iv) Weight v) Price per kilogram vi) Date issued. The details on the meat-record labels will ensure the FIFO, or ‘First In First Out’ rule, and prevent spoilage.

A Receiving Sheet is a compilation of a daily report of merchandise received and lists all the purchases made for items of daily use and of those for later use in separate sheets. The list of daily purchases is sent to the kitchen while that of the stock purchases is sent to the store room for subsequent use. The Receiving Sheet helps in cross-checking the merchandise for inventory and storage purposes.

Storing Controls
A systemized procedure to guard against pilferage and to prevent spoilage, Storing Controls and strict Inventory Control measures ensure that the merchandise, especially perishables, are not wasted or spoilt. Internal Spoilage is generally caused by long periods of storage, improper ventilation or inappropriate temperatures. External Spoilage may be due to pests, rats, broken containers, defective refrigeration.

Issuing Controls
Food stock should not be issued from the store room without a properly executed requisition. The requisition must contain a list of all food items and their quantity and the signature of the person authorized to request such merchandise. Requisitions are ‘food cheques’ and are crucial in reconciliation of inventories and consumption.

In calculating operational costs for any length of time consumption of food items can be determined by the following formula: Consumption = Purchases + Opening Inventory – Closing Inventory

In actual practice, shrinkage and spoilage will create discrepancies. If the discrepancies exceed 1% of the total amount of the stocks issued for a particular period, pilferage or careless procedures are responsible.

Production Controls
Pre-preparation and portioning are the basic processing of foodstuffs prior to preparation and actual cooking. Peeling vegetables, trimming meat, cutting steaks are examples. Negligence, lack of skill or failure to maintain established standards can lead to substantial excess cost. For instance, consider the sum total of the wastage if a potato is peeled inattentively or if seekh kebabs weighing 60 grams each are prepared when the standard weight should be 50 grams. Over a period of time a 10 gram increase per seekh kebab can prove to be major wastage.

Food production controls are specific procedures governing the preparation of food to reduce wastage and eliminate inequalities in portions. The three basic phases in production control are Planned Preparation, Standard Recipes and Standard Portion Sizes.

If a restaurant is to serve a consistent product at an acceptable cost it must carry out control over its food preparation. Production control is an extension of modern manufacturing methods into the restaurant area. These methods include the quantity of material to be used, how many kilograms / grams of the ingredients went into which recipe to prepare a product, and the standard size of the products which are offered for sale.

If an individual chef is given the liberty to follow his own method of preparation and use of ingredients the patrons will realize the difference in appearance, taste, acceptability and cost. Planned Preparation includes the production sheet which is a summary of instructions to the chefs indicating the quantity to be produced and other special instructions; a standard recipe ensures consistency in taste and appearance besides providing advance calculation of the cost per portion.

Use of Standard Recipes helps in maintaining standards of quality, material management and the cost factor. Standardized recipes specify the names and weights of the ingredients to be used which helps prevent wastage. Standard cooking procedures are necessary for production of palatable food, with consistency in portion and to minimize weight loss during the cooking process.

Standard Portion Sizes must be established for all items prepared in bulk and later divided into individual portions. These include roasts, soups, stews, salads and ice creams. A standard portion chart must be prepared for reference.

A garnish enhances the appearance of food and excessive garnishing could increase costs significantly in the case of a restaurant with a good daily turnover. Standard garniture charts for individual food items should be incorporated into the standard portion size chart for ready reference.

Another important factor in adherence to standard portion sizes is patron satisfaction. Despite assured standardized service to all patrons regardless of any personal factors. It would annoy a patron to see another patron being served a larger portion of a dish compared to what he has been served.

To reduce avoidable food spoilage and wastage and for better financial returns, controls have to be implemented, practiced and recalibrated. These include:
* Check requirements for provision of foodstuffs on a DAILY BASIS
* Guarantee PROPER STORAGE of foodstuff to keep it fresh
* Ensure AUDITING of refrigerated foodstuff
* Launch AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS to prevent avoidable food wastage
* Plan the menu after conducting a survey of CLIENTS’ PREFERENCES
* Establish routines for RIGHT SERVING PORTIONS
* Record on a daily basis the WASTAGE, the weight of all the raw and cooked food separately which is disposed of in the dustbins.
* FIX TARGETS AND PROTOCOLS to reduce avoidable food wastage

A recent study by the Indian Institute of Public Administration of the wastage of food during social gatherings in the National Capital Region, Delhi, showed that rising economic prosperity led to people indulging in extravagance during social events. People did not mind throwing away food, but the menu had to be extensive as a shortage would affect their social status.

A survey on the criminal wastage of food during Indian weddings in order to create awareness and sensitize the public not to waste food was conducted in Bangalore. After surveying 75 of Bangalore’s 531 marriage halls over a period of six months the team of 10 professors from the University of Agricultural Sciences came to the conclusion that “About 84,960 marriages are held at 531 marriage halls in Bangalore every year. About 943 tonnes of high-calorie quality food, enough to feed 2.6 crore people a normal Indian meal, is wasted in these halls annually.”

Re-development of Tourism Infrastructure in Uttarakhand
As Uttarakhand is recovering from the impact of the recent calamity it is time the authorities consider the importance of promoting sustainable tourism of this pilgrimage-rich State, writes Mr. Anil Bhandari in an article printed as the Guest Column of Cross Section Publications’ HotelScapes issue dated July 2013

It is commendable that the Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned a special package of Rs. 100 crore for reconstruction and restoration of the affected government tourist facilities over and above the Rs. 95 crore sanctioned as Central financial assistance during the current financial year for development of tourism infrastructure.

I suggest that the special package be utilised for the creation of Eco-Tourism Parks in the affected regions. Preservation and promotion of nature and re-development of tourism through development of Eco-Tourism Parks will bring about an ideal balance between nature, the local community and the multitudes of visiting tourists and pilgrims,

The heavy rains and cloudbursts leading to flash flooding of the Bhagirathi river caused unimaginable loss of life and massive destruction of property in and around the pilgrim city of Kedarnath, one of the quartet of Garhwal region’s Char Dham yatra.

The country, the corporate world and the common man, all have united to help the disaster-affected people in Uttarakhand. Donations are reaching the State authorities, relief materials such as food, water, medicines, woollens and other provisions are being dispatched.

Volunteers have opened rehabilitation camps to provide relief to the flood victims. Real estate developers, telecom network companies, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, private industries and public sector organisations, NGOs and others are working tirelessly to assist the affected and restore normalcy

.

As the State attempts to deal with the situation, environmentalists consider the disaster as manmade while geologists say the extent of destruction could have been minimal if stricter regulations were in place. It is a fact that India does not have a national policy for preservation and conservation of bio-diversity-rich mountainous areas. The current regulations are observed more in the breach.

The economy of Uttarakhand is dependent upon tourism and hydel power. The recent disaster has shown the downside of having constructed more than a dozen power-generating dams and barrages thereby resulting in destruction of the natural wealth of the State. The duty of the State now is to concentrate on the re-development of tourism.

This is possible if the environmental protection regulations are enforced and followed. It is necessary to conduct feasibility through tourism and environmental experts as this will ensure maintenance of the natural beauty such as flora, fauna, forests, rivers, waterfalls and springs. The feasibility report can be used as a platform for regional town planning and related tourism activities.

Prior to any developmental work it should be mandatory to conduct feasibility studies on the environmental conditions and the carrying capacity of each place of tourist interest. The carrying capacity should take into account the flow of tourists, pilgrims as well as the number of local residents.

According to census figures the population of this hill-State was 1.08 crore in 2011 while the number of visiting tourists and pilgrims in the same year was 2.5 crore, a majority of them coming during the tourist season which is limited to the three or four months of summer.

The same principles as followed for regulating pilgrim traffic to Mansarovar and Amarnath should be studied and adapted to local conditions. It is advisable to also study international systems as followed in Switzerland and other high-altitude tourist resorts internationally. Other steps which need to be taken include:

  • Observe green practices to control pollution at the Eco-Tourism Parks as well as in the region
  • Encourage promotion of local bio-diversity, procedures for re-cycling & waste material disposal
  • Promote non-polluting, ecologically safe systems such as bio-gas, solar energy and wind power for power generation and supply to the entire region
  • Increase awareness of environmentally-friendly practices among tourists as well as the local population in public areas through audio-visual mode
  • Follow environmental-friendly designs for architecture, construction and engineering projects at the Parks and in the region
  • Support use of LPG for domestic and commercial cooking purposes and use of battery-run vehicles thereby limiting entry of motorised vehicles to the entire region

Creation of Tourism Eco-Parks in or near Uttarakhand’s Char Dham locations would provide sustainable tourism for both the luxury as well as budget class of tourists. This tourism development plan would provide for sufficient land earmarked for basic infrastructure, hotels, transport, travel and tourism offices, cultural, religious, wellness and health centres.

Innovative use of green technology for the development of Eco-Tourism Parks would encourage the use of environmentally safe methods and materials, from using local materials for construction purposes, recycling of waste material and water, use of non-toxic products and promotion of techniques for generating energy besides the use of alternative sources of energy.

Sustainable destinations such as Eco-Tourism Parks re-invest the profits from their tourism activities in environmental conservation and ecological heritage restoration and preservation, thereby demonstrating a thriving culture, strong social networks and increasing bio-diversity.

Uttarakhand could earn considerable income by promoting tourism as it has a large variety of tourism products and activities. These include mountains (rock-climbing), rivers (rafting and fishing), forests (bird sanctuaries), Valley of Flowers (nature park and trekking), sports (para-gliding and skiing), ethnic handicrafts (local artwork), etc.

The pilgrimage tourism segment of the State includes the Char Dham yatra which includes Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamnotri and a host of other temples of lesser importance as well as the majestic gurdwara of Hemkund Sahib. The peaceful environment of the region is ideal for promotion of wellness tourism, yoga and meditation.

The scope of industrial development in the State should be restricted to non-polluting industries of the service sector such as pharmaceuticals. It should be ensured that the small and medium enterprises adopt cleaner and greener production practices. To further spread the message of nature conservation eco-practices should be initiated at the local schools. This would help establish effective communication channels encouraging the population to take forward the message of sustainable tourism.

Sustainable tourism being responsible tourism, the setting up of Eco-Tourism Parks, besides turning tourism in the State as a year-round activity as compared to the seasonality factor presently, would also contain the unchecked growth of hotels, motels, restaurants, wayside shops and shopping malls on roadsides, river beds, unstable slopes and forest areas. The State Government should immediately utilise the services of experts in destination development and those with experience in the hotels, travel and tourism industry to plan for re-building the region’s potential major revenue earner.

Tourism in India – An Economic Activity’ Book by Mr. Anil Bhandari Launched
The book ‘Tourism in India – An economic activity’ written by Mr. Anil Bhandari was launched on 7 February, 2013 in New Delhi at The Ashok Hotel’s Banquet Hall

The book was formally launched by the Chief Guest, Mr. S.K.Misra whose efforts to position India as one of the finest tourist countries in the world is remarkable.

Mr. Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Dr. Lalit K. Panwar, Chairman & Managing Director India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) were the Guests of Honour on the occasion.

Mr. Bhandari, who is the Chairman of AB Smart Concepts, a Consultancy Company for Hotels, Travel and Tourism, explained, “Many books have been written on Tourism but not as wide-ranging as this one. It covers the entire gamut of Tourism and its importance as an economic activity which will make it of immense help to Tourism students, planners, research scholars and stakeholders both in the public and private sectors”.

“My objective of writing this book was to share my knowledge and experience which I gained in 47 years while working with the Travel, Tourism and Hotel industry”.

On a nostalgic note, the author recalled that The Ashok, the venue of the launch of his book, held a special position for him as this was where he began his career as a Trainee and left as the Chairman & Managing Director of ITDC. During his tenure ITDC registered a record profit of Rs 53.60 crore in the financial year 1996-97.

Mr. Bhandari has had a distinguished career in the Hospitality industry as Advisor ITC Ltd. Hotels, Travel, Tourism, Real Estate, Chairman & Managing Director of India Tourism Development Corporation, Managing Director JHM Interstate Hotels, International Travel House and Hotel Corporation of India.

During discussions, Mr. Bhandari explained the importance of Tourism as an economic activity globally. World Travel & Tourism’s direct contribution to GDP in 2011 was US $ 2 trillion and taking into account its direct, indirect and induced impacts, was US $ 6.3 trillion, representing 9% of GDP. The impact in job creation directly was 98 million while the direct, indirect and induced combination was 255 million jobs.

In India direct contribution to GDP was Rs. 1,689.8 billion while total contribution was Rs. 5,651.0 billion. This contributed 6.4% to the GDP. Tourism directly supported 25 million jobs and, including indirectly, was 40 million jobs.

In 2011, the number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals was 6.29 million, a growth of 8.9% over 2010. With Ministry of Tourism targeting over 12% growth rate in inbound as well as domestic tourists, it is projected that the tourism sector will generate additional jobs of about 2.5 crore during the 12th Five-year Plan.

In this context, Mr. Bhandari remarked, “There are 41 Institutes of Hotel Management and Food Craft Institutes and I suggest more hospitality institutes be created in the Public-Private Partnership mode to train youngsters and meet the industry’s requirements”.

Mr. Bhandari elaborated, “There is a chapter on Special Tourism Zones which gives details about a proposal of mine for which the Ministry of Tourism had sought an allocation in the 12th Five-year Plan as 35 Tourism Parks are planned by the year 2016”.

The author further stated that States should take charge of the infrastructural development and the Central Government should concern itself with maximizing the integrated development of Tourism and the promotion of Incredible India.

The book published by Har-Anand Publications contains details on the initiation of Tourism’s foundation in 1946 with the recommendation to promote tourism through creation of hotels and resorts and opening of tourism offices in foreign countries. The process of tourism planning, infrastructure, financial allocations from the Planning Commission and how those funds were utilized are outlined.

The book also has details on State Tourism Development Corporations, the most-visited States, guidelines for the benefit of tourists, Tourism Education institutions, National Tourism Awards, Hotel Industry and its classification and Tourism Service providers.

Chhattisgarh Ideal for Development of Tourism Parks
The Incredible State of Chhattisgarh was the focus of attention as stakeholders of the tourism industry interacted with State Government officials and tourism policy-makers of the Ministry of Tourism at a seminar hosted by the Foundation for Aviation & Sustainable Tourism (FAST) at the India International Centre, New Delhi, in January 2013

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) K.M. Seth, former Governor Chhattisgarh and President FAST, took the initiative to organise the seminar. Those taking part in the inaugural session were Mr. Brijmohan Agrawal, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Government of Chhattisgarh; Mr. V.P. Agrawal, Chairman Airports Authority of India; Mr. Parvez Dewan, Secretary Tourism, Government of India; Mr. M.P. Bezbaruah, former Union Secretary (Tourism); and Mr. Gurcharan Bhatura, Director-General FAST.

The participants included Mr. Bezbaruah; Mr. P. Sen Bhowmick, General Manager Chhattisgarh Tourism Board; Mr. Anil Bhandari, Chairman AB Smart Concepts; Mr. Ashwini Lohani, former CMD of ITDC and Tourism expert; Mr. Subhash Goyal, President Indian Association of Tour Operators; Mr. Subhash Verma, President Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India; Mr. Aashish Gupta, Founder of Strategy Pluto; and Mr. Sudhir Sahi, Rural Tourism expert, among others.

The sessions included subjects such as ‘Vision & Strategy for Chhattisgarh,’ ‘Challenges and Opportunities in Creating an Integrated Tourism, Travel, Hospitality & Aviation Strategy,’ as well as a combined panel discussion on ‘Evolving a Public-Private Partnership Framework’ and ‘Framework for Sustainable Rural Tourism & Employment Creation.’

Chhattisgarh, created in the year 2000, is a young State with a rich cultural heritage. The potential for the development of tourism is immense considering that 44% of the State is under forest cover and that most of the State’s tourist attractions are yet to be fully explored.

These products of an eco-friendly environment and rich bio-diversity include famous waterfalls, religious places, wildlife sanctuaries and ethnic communities. This mineral-rich State has considerable scope for industrial development which can act as a catalyst in tourism development/promotion as well as in employment generation.

Speakers emphasised on promotion of the PPP model for development of tourism in the State. It was suggested that as a first step the various Tourism Products be identified in their various segments such as Culture, Heritage, Ethno-Tourism, Pilgrim Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Business and Leisure Tourism.

The next step would be to make a tourism developmental plan which takes into account basic infrastructure, accommodation such as hotels and motels, transport, travel and tourism offices and agents, conference, cultural and entertainment centres, travel, tourism and hospitality institutes, marketing and promotion. Thirdly would be the allocation of funds for creation of Tourism Products and prioritisation so as to promote integrated growth rather than ad hoc building of the tourist infrastructure as this would result in unbalanced development.

For a holistic approach to tourism development, it would be essential to learn from the experiences of other Indian States as well as of foreign national tourism organisations. As examples of integrated development the Hospitality district model by Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL), the case of Macau as a popular destination and the proposed development of Disneyland in Shanghai were cited.

It was also emphasised that all plans for integrated development of the tourism infrastructure be legitimised so that the process was not disrupted in case of a change in the State’s political leadership. The Government should be into governance and regulation and not in business, it was felt.

Mr. Bhandari, as Chairman of the ‘Evolving a Public-Private Partnership Framework’ session, suggested that the State Government identify areas for creation of Tourism Parks in the requisite growth centres and utilise the PPP framework for development of these Parks for both the business and leisure class of tourists.

Single-window clearance between the public authorities and the private sector companies would facilitate the private sector’s initiatives in provision of fiscal benefits and tax holidays etc.; and promote a scientific approach to planning, management and development of environmental controls.

Mr. Bhandari said it was advisable if the State Government formulates a PPP scheme which is pro-investor even though the returns on investments may take a longer gestation period. The Government would benefit in the long run as there would be a higher inflow of investments; lead to a multiplier effects through generation of employment, poverty alleviation and other socio-economic benefits which impact the local community; easier regulation of the environment; and focused tourism development.

Presently the reason for people not investing in the development of hotels is lack of availability of land, high cost of land, long procedures and multiple clearances for building hotels, and lack of basic infrastructure. There is no land currently earmarked in Master Plans of State Governments or Union Territories for hotels. This results in haphazard development of hotels, impacting the environment.

Mr. Bhandari suggested that each Tourism Park have sufficient land earmarked for hotels, convention centres, theme parks and skill-training centres. As in Sentosa in Singapore and Cancun in Mexico there would be facilities for craft centres, haats, entertainment and amusement, food streets, sports and hosting of cultural events and festivals.

These Tourism Parks would benefit tourists as they would be able to access integrated facilities at one place; get a greater choice through a basket of services; enjoy freedom from touts and beggars; and be ensured a clean and regulated environment.

Another advantage was that creation of Tourism Parks in or near places of tourist interest such as commercial and business districts, hill stations and religious locations would attract foreigners and Indians in large numbers thereby providing safe and sustainable tourism.

Hotel Industry – Looking Ahead
Sensing the demand potential of the hotel industry in India, international hotel chains have made plans for the coming years. The Ministry of Tourism also estimates an increase in tourist arrivals (FTAs). However, the supply will be more than the demand. The hotels, to sustain their GoP, have to look into their operating costs and find ways and means to minimise them. Sustainable use of energy and controlled wage costs are two factors to be considered, suggests Anil Bhandari in an article printed in the February 2013 issue of HotelScapes of Cross Section Publications

In 2013 the Hotel industry is likely to face challenges due to increase in cost of land, rise in land conversion charges, enhancement of government taxes, higher cost of construction materials as also labour charges and the spiralling cost of financing, all of which result in the higher cost of a hotel property. The Rate on Investment would be impacted.

Room rates for hotels in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad in the third quarter (Q3) of 2012 are 5-20% less than in Q3 of 2011. Room rates at luxury hotels in Chennai have dropped by 10-15% compared to 2011 because two large luxury hotels the Grand Chola with 625 rooms and The Leela with 326 rooms, have come into the market. In Bengaluru, room rates have slipped by 5-10% while Hyderabad has performed the worst with a 20% drop in rates over 2011.

India is considered one of the most lucrative hotel markets in the world after China and has the second largest construction pipeline in Asia. Growing affluence and the increasing role India is expected to play in the global economy are likely to drive both leisure and business travel to India in the coming years. For most global hotel majors a significant part of their hotel pipeline is centred on faster growing developing markets such as India.

The year 2011/12 witnessed an addition of 12,782 branded rooms in the country, which led to an existing supply of 84,313, an 18% increase over the previous year. The new supply was 31% higher than the new supply in 2010/11. Nationwide occupancy declined in 2011/12, not due to an absolute decline in demand but due to supply increasing faster than demand.

It is possible that hotels, existing as well as new, will see a decline in operating margins in view of further Revenue-per-available-room (RevPar) decline with new supply entering the market. Overall, nationwide RevPar declined by 6.3% over the previous year. Continuing inflationary trends have led to increase in wages, energy costs, raw materials etc.

Effective economy measures are imperative for the growth potential and of assured high levels of return. Sustainable use of energy and controlled wage costs are two factors which can positively influence a control on costs.

ENERGY COSTS: The introduction of environmental sustainability in hotels is no longer a fashion but a practical necessity as it can keep the ever-rising energy costs to a minimum. Energy bills at hotels have risen to 15-16% of operational costs as compared to an average 7-8% in previous years. Heating, lighting and power costs are the second highest behind employee costs, which too have grown in the past few years. The increase in energy bills is due to the growing cost of power and diesel. The cost of electricity has more than doubled over the past three years while the price of diesel has gone up by over 30% in the past two-and-a-half years.

It is, therefore, necessary to adopt green technology and environmentally-friendly methods such as installation of chlorofluorocarbon-free air conditioners, rainwater harvesting, tapping solar and wind power to turn energy-efficient. Elimination of wasteful consumption, recycling of waste materials and sensitisation of employees are other steps which can be taken to effect economy.

There was an overall drop of 3.3% in energy costs as a percentage of hotel revenue than in the previous year, according to a survey conducted in 2010-11 by FHRAI. Introduction of various green initiatives can contribute towards a more eco-friendly environment, improved marketability and better efficiency levels to help manage rising energy costs.

Many of the low-cost measures for new developments can be initiated at the planning stage when the proposed project is in the hands of the architect and interior designer. A 10-20% reduction in energy consumption can be readily achieved through no-cost and low-cost measures, and can increase by 2-4% of the hotel’s GOP margin.

Hotels could also source energy from private suppliers at rates lower than that supplied by the government. Recently a hotel in Gurgaon utilised their services and is saving approximately ten lakh rupees per month.

The architect should take into consideration the advantages of natural lighting to increase ambient lighting along with the installation of lighting fixtures with low energy consumption such as LED lights which consume less units of energy apart from the advantage of a having a longer life as compared to other lighting systems.

At the planning stage, the Food & Beverage outlets should be positioned on the same floor as it enables the centralised kitchen to service all the outlets. Apart from reduction in manpower requirements, equipment costs can also be better controlled. For instance, convection ovens can perform repetitive functions better than steamers and grilles and better planning would lead to greater efficiency at lower operational cost and a near-zero rate of equipment duplication.

It should be the role of the facility planner to ask for the concept and the proposed cuisine and menu of the F&B outlets. This would help in procurement of the requisite kitchen equipment thereby avoiding repetition or non-utilisation. Convectional ovens and dish washers of light capacity should be preferred as part of energy-efficiency measures.

WAGE COSTS: Strategy development of a hotel was earlier based on extrapolation of the past and the present whereas in more recent times, emerging patterns of the future have become the core of business operations. Implementation of effective measures to control costs involves factors such as multi-skilling, multi-tasking, and new sets of models in training and development for the staff.

In today’s competitive landscape the most successful differentiator a hotel can rely on is effective management of its human resources. Use of good quality software is essential for effective management. Despite the use of software in some hotels there has been no corresponding reduction in manpower.

Earlier a 3-star hotel room-to-staff ratio was of 1:1.25 while that of a 5-star hotel was 1:1.75. It has now increased to 1:1.50 for 3-star hotels and 1:2 at 5-star properties. Today a 5-star hotel, just for receiving and checking in a guest, employs a durban to open car doors, others to open hotel doors, concierge, page boys, porters, receptionists, guest relations executives and duty managers in addition to the front office manager, rooms division manager and also a public relations manager.

In the 1990s, when there was no software available, the deployment was of durban, page boys, porters, receptionists, duty managers, in addition to a front office manager, and public relations manager. There were fewer numbers of people and they provided much better personalized service. It is time hotels review their manpower strength.

Mid-market and budget hotels in India tend to offer more expansive facilities than those provided by luxury and first class hotels, especially related to the F&B offerings and therefore require a large number of personnel to manage operations as compared to hotels globally.

Being a service industry, where talent redeems the brand promise, employee cost on an average would be 20%. In the last one year, that has gone up to 23-24%, denting a hotel’s profitability in many cases. A super-deluxe hotel company reported 17-29% increase in employee cost during the calendar year 2010. Other expenses such as raw materials, power and fuel, on the other hand, grew on an average by 12-15% respectively.

The hospitality business requires entrepreneurs to continuously come up with new services, new ways to present existing services, new ways of enhancing the experiences of their increasingly demanding clientele, and new processes to economise operations.

Incentives for maximum output by a minimum-level workforce, as well as to avoid attrition problems, could include hi-quality training modules and employee incentive programmes. Hotels experimenting with outsourcing of their non-core businesses to third-party specialists points to the emergence of a new pattern of cost cutting which is likely to influence the hospitality business in the long run.

Existing and new hotels, to sustain and improve their GOP as well as to remain cost-competitive, need to pay more attention towards various methods to cut costs as the addition of more rooms is likely to raise the competition in the face of declining occupancy and room rates.

Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Tiger Tourism
This article by Mr. Anil Bhandari was printed as the Guest Column of the Go Now issue of Cross Section Publications in November 2012

The lifting of the ban on tiger tourism in core areas of reserves and sanctuaries by the Supreme Court recently is a shot in the arm for tourism. The apex court recently permitted tourism in core areas, vacating its interim ban order of 24th July 2012, and has asked all authorities to strictly adhere to the guidelines notified by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

The decision will bring cheer to the tiger tourism industry which is valued at more than Rs. 1,000 crore by experts. The industry had lobbied against the interim ban stopping any form of tourism in the core areas of the 41 tiger reserves in the country to aid conservation efforts.

India is home to the world’s largest population of tigers, estimated to be 1,706, according to the World Wildlife Fund. That number reduced from more than 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century due to poaching and habitat encroachment.

After a 1972 census finding that there were only 1,827 tigers, the Government of India launched Project Tiger in 1973-74 and a core buffer strategy was initiated wherein core areas were free of human activities. At that time there were only nine tiger reserves covering an area of approximately 13,000 sq. km., much less than the over 50,000 sq. km. presently.

The preservation and protection of the tiger population is not only the responsibility of the government or the courts, it is also that of the tourism industry. Tiger reserves were set up throughout India to provide a protected environment for animals living in their natural environment. Resorts and villages were set up for tourists, domestic as well as foreign, to see the tiger and its habitats.

Lifting of the ban will be beneficial for a number of reasons. Hotels and resorts within the forests outside of the core areas will again welcome wildlife enthusiasts and tourists who had cancelled their programmes. It will also revive the process of generation of revenues by way of taxes for the government and more employment opportunities in the concerned States. The livelihoods of local communities inhabiting the areas in and around the reserves, and whose income depends on wildlife tourism, will improve and the threat from poachers will be curtailed.

The Forest Department needs to be vigilant in the regulation and management of tourism in the tiger reserves. Approval of the Project Tiger directorate should be taken for development of the tourism plan for each reserve wherein it must designate the tourism zones, demarcating the zoning plan and be based on carrying capacity studies. Meanwhile, the Environment and Forests Ministry needs to finalise an eco-tourism policy for tiger reserves incorporating land-use reservation into the Environmental Protection Act, 1984.

The Supreme Court has asked every state to prepare tiger conservation plan within six months keeping in mind the NTCA guidelines and submit it to the Centre for approval. NTCA, a nodal body of the Environment and Forests Ministry, had designed new guidelines for tourism in and around tiger reserves. This followed the opposition of the tourism lobby to the phasing out of tourism from the core areas in a span of five years in the old guidelines. The revised guidelines were notified on 15th October 2012.

According to the new guidelines only up to 20 percent of the core areas of tiger habitats should be allowed for regulated, low-impact tourism. This cannot exceed the present usage of core areas in reserves. The core area is a critical habitat for tigers and is identified on the basis of availability of water, prey and shelter.

Under the new guidelines, the stakeholders, including state governments and tourist facilities, are mandated with specific tasks. State governments have to charge a conservation fee from the tourism industry for eco-development and local community upliftment work. The suggested fee structure may range from Rs. 500 Rs. 3,000 a room per month.

The rate of conservation fee and tourist facility strata shall be determined by the state government, and the fund thus collected should be earmarked to address local livelihood development, human-wildlife conflict management, and conservation through eco-development, and not go to the state exchequer, according to the norms. Such funds should be administered by tiger conservation foundations and “the tourism industry will have a say in how and where this fund is to be utilized,” according to the new guidelines.

Culinary Institute to Turn into Reality: Dr. Chiranjeevi
tells 9th Annual Chef Awards 2012
The Minister for Tourism Dr. K. Chiranjeevi said that the intrinsic worth of Indian cuisine was unique in its varieties. He said the taste of a dish as simple as daal differed after every 60 kilometres.

Addressing the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Culinary Forum (ICF) which hosted the 9th Annual Chef Awards 2012 at The Ashok in New Delhi on 19th December 2012, the Ministry of Tourism was working towards the establishment of a Culinary Institute shortly as a step towards the promotion of Indian regional cuisine internationally.

The Minister said cuisine and culinary trends formed part of the events during social and festive occasions, at religious functions and at cultural gatherings. Dr. Chiranjeevi said many spices used in the preparation of Indian dishes have medicinal values.

Dr. Chiranjeevi, in an interview later said he likes to cook Andhra specialities at home as it relaxes him and he had created a special dosa the recipe of which he shared with a restaurateur friend who later told him that that particular type of dosa was very popular among his clientele.

Dr. Chiranjeevi said the Culinary Institute would function at two levels. The national-level Institute will be located at the New Okhla Industrial Development Area (NOIDA) near Delhi and the regional centre at Pinjore in Haryana.

Headquartered at NOIDA, the mother institute will have major facilities like Research & Documentation and a world-class resource centre among others, besides a regular Culinary Institute with a full-time core faculty. The proposed institutes will draw Indian and international recognition through tie-ups with reputed universities and lecturers would be invited from world-renowned hospitality institutes.

The Minister outlined strategies for development of tourism education in the 12th Plan. New Institutes of Hotel Management (IHMs) and Food Crafts Institutes (FCIs) would be opened to supplement the capacity of existing IHMs and FCIs besides strengthening and upgrading infrastructure. Besides, skill development would be provided through ‘Hunar Se Rozgar’ programmes.

These steps were essential as the total number of jobs in the tourism sector in 2016 was estimated at about 78 million as compared to 53 million in 2010. Therefore creation of additional employment of 24.5 million is anticipated during the 2010-16 Plan period, according to estimates of the Planning Commission.

The Indian Culinary Forum and the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations (IFCA) organises International Chefs’ Day, Chef Awards and Chef & Child Charity Dinner, an annual event to recognize and honour Chefs and their contribution to the Hospitality industry and society at large.

The gala Chefs’ Child Dinner which is part of the proceedings is a contribution from leading hotels and restaurants and showcases dishes prepared by celebrity Chefs, the proceeds of which are contributed to a charity organization.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Anil Bhandari, Chairman of the Organising Committee, welcomed Dr. Chiranjeevi and other distinguished guests who included the Secretary Tourism Mr. Parvez Dewan, Chairman ITDC Dr. Lalit Pawar, Ministry of Tourism Additional Secretary Mr. Girish Shankar, Chef Davinder Kumar of Le Meridian, Chef M.S. Gill of ITC Hotels, Chairman & Managing Director L.T. Foods Ltd. Mr. Vijay Arora, and Mr. R. Kumar of Continental Equipments.

Mr. Bhandari said the Chef Awards was instituted by him and Mr. Kumar in 2004 with ICF and IFCA with the objectives to award excellence, honour chefs and to encourage more people to join the profession.

ICF, as part of its corporate social responsibility, donated part of the proceeds of the Chef Awards every year to various charities. He said Chefs had a role in contributing towards social responsibilities and they should consider it their duty to ensure that food is consumed and not wasted. He suggested that Chefs take a pledge to initiate steps to conserve food.

A ‘Save Food’ policy could include proper storage facilities, efficient inventory management, avoidance of over-cooking, and reduced portion size. The ‘Save Food’ policy would increase participation of Chefs in the country’s economic and social progress and help promote the sustainable consumption of food.

Mr. Bhandari suggested that the Department of Tourism promote Indian cuisine through distribution of cookery books. These books could include ‘50 Master Chefs’ compiled by Chef Davinder Kumar and released by Dr. Chiranjeevi during the function, ‘Secrets of Indian Gastronomy’ composed by Chef Gill, the books by Chef Sanjeev Kapur of ‘Khana Khazana’ and ‘Food Food’ channel fame, and a book by himself which was to be released shortly.

Chef Davinder Kumar, President ICF, said the book ‘50 Master Chefs’ was launched to provide signature recipes of the Master Chefs of India. He was happy with his role in the presentation of the awards to Chefs who proved their culinary skills thereby establishing a significant position in this industry.

Chef Award 2012 winners

Kitchen Artist Chef Mahesh Kumar Srivastav, Hotel Samrat
Master Baker Chef Anand Singh Rathore, Old World Hospitality Pvt Ltd??????????
Master Chef International Confectionery Chef Chandan Rati, Country Inns & Suites
Master Chef Indian Sweets Chef Inder Singh, ITC Rajputana
Master Chef Kebabs Chef Mukesh Gautam, Country Inns & Suites
Master Chef International Cuisine??? Chef Kishan Singh Rawat, Country Inn & Suites
Chef of the Year?? Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, Olive Bar & Kitchen
Food Critic Dr. Pushpesh Pant
Lady Chef of the Year Chef Ishika Konar, Pullman Hotel
Master Chef South India Cuisine?????? Chef Shakti Raj, Hotel Radisson Blu
Master Chef Oriental Cuisine Chef Basant Rana, Hotel Park
Silver Hat Chef????? Chef Tarun Dacha, Sarovar Group
Golden Hat Chef?????????????????? Chef Arun Batra, Tajsats Air Catering
Lifetime Achievement??????? Chef Sudhir Sibal

The winners were selected by a jury the members of which were Mr. V.S. Datta, ex-ITC and owner of Culinary Institute, Mr. K.B. Kachru, senior Vice-President of Carlson Residor India & Asia, Chef Arvind Saraswat of the Taj Group, Chef M.S. Gill, Chef Davinder Kumar, Chef Sudhir Sibal, former senior Vice-President ITDC, Shri Alok Shivapuri, Principal of Institute of Hotel Management Pusa, and Mr. R. Kumar.

After the awards ceremony Dr. Chiranjeevi, who was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2006, felt that Chefs, like artistes and film personalities, should also be considered for Padma Shri awards in recognition of their distinguished contribution to Indian cuisine and said he would raise the matter with the concerned authorities.

Toasting the Cocktail
Making a cocktail is an art in which heady distillations are paired off with appropriate mixtures to create refreshing flavours. Generation Next takes the art to the next level, combining the classic with the modern, writes Mr. Anil Bhandari in 2013

Myths on the origin of the word ‘cocktails’ are plentiful. One relates to that of a Mexican princess named Coctel who served drinks to American soldiers in the 1800s, another refers to the use of the colourful tail feathers of cocks used as a garnishing in 1799. The more credible version is that cocktails were ‘created’ to dodge the prohibition policy during 1920-1933 in North America by disguising alcoholic drinks with fruit juices.

Lovers of Bacchus have been mixing drinks for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that forerunners of the cocktail, also known as slings, fizzes, toddies and juleps became popular enough to be recorded and mentioned in books.

By the 1950s the cocktail became a fashionable drink even among Europe’s upper class. This heady creation was also glamourised by Hollywood and novelists. To attract clientele, bartenders devised trendy combinations of cocktails, giving them flashy names.

Popular in the 1960s were the vodka-based Moscow Mule, Screwdriver and Gimlet or the rum-with-blue Caracao classic Blue Hawaiian. Then are the evergreens which continue their run of popularity even today, such as Bloody Mary, Manhattan and the many-hued Martini.

There is a choice of Martinis which are made with gin or vodka and a dash of vermouth. A bartender needs to know the imbiber’s liquor preference and if it should be shaken or stirred. Martinis can be served as dry, extra dry, bone dry, perfect, dirty or a Gibson.

Trendy tropical cocktails of today include Daiquiri, Mai Tai, Mojito, Margarita, Pina Colada; and among the tall drinks are Gin and Tonic, Tom Collins and Long Island Iced Tea which, incidentally, does not have tea. As the fruit juices camouflage the alcoholic content cocktails are a popular choice among ladies today.

The latest trend catching on from New York to New Delhi is mixology, or experimenting with new tastes and preferences. The mixologist focuses on creating newer and more exotic tasting drinks, thereby pushing the limits of classical bartending.

Mixology is accepted to be a refined, higher study of mixing cocktails and drinks, the concept being to enhance the flavour of the drink and make the drinker’s experience more intense.

The choice of liquor for preparing a cocktail is whisky, rum, vodka, gin, brandy, tequila and liqueurs. The mixers include the juices of lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples and tomatoes as also ginger ale and lime juice cordial. The flavouring could range from Angostura bitters, grenadine, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, honey, sugar and cream.

Any guide to the preparation of cocktails will tell you that mixed drinks can be garnished in many ways such as by frosting the rim of a glass with salt or floating a slice of lemon in the glass. The addition of fruits, sweet, sour or flavoured, imparts freshness and an exotic taste to a cocktail.

Rules about mixing: Clear cocktails are usually stirred; cloudy cocktails shaken; you can shake a cocktail that calls for a little head on top, such as a Margarita; ask guests if they prefer their Martinis shaken or stirred; mix frozen cocktails in a blender. Blending is also required when using solid fruits, ice cream, and if a fine consistency is required.

Some terms: Dash is a very small amount; muddle is to mix a drink or stir an ingredient into the drink; float is to pour on top of other liquids without disturbing them; shake is when ingredients are poured into a cocktail shaker with ice and shaken briskly; frosting is moistening the glass rim, usually with a lemon, to allow an ingredient, such as salt, to stick to the rim; on the rocks is when a drink is served undiluted in a glass filled with ice; twist means squeezing a citrus peel over a drink.

Not to be left behind, non-drinkers in the 1930s devised the term mocktails which meant a non-alcoholic drink consisting of a mixture of fruit juices or other soft drinks. Mocktails are popular today among those who prefer not to imbibe alcohol.

Another novelty practised currently by many bartenders and establishments internationally is Molecular Mixology, the purpose being to create new flavours, textures and visuals. The techniques include the use of foams, liquid nitrogen, gels, mists, heat, solidifying liquids, etc.

After cocktails and mocktails we look forward to the creation of, who knows, maybe mixitail, a next-generation marriage of alcohol with classical techniques and modern science. Considering the growing popularity of cocktails among the younger generation and the novelty of mixing different brews to devise exhilarating new tastes, that era may not take a long time to arrive.

The Restaurant Industry on Growth Curve
Mr. Anil Bhandari gives his views on the restaurant industry on the occasion of the Indian Restaurant Congress which was held in August 2011

The current revenues generated by the Indian Restaurant Industry is Rs. 43,000 crore annually and are growing at the rate of 5% to 6% per annum in both the organized and unorganised sector. The orgainsed segment is estimated at between Rs. 7,000 crore to Rs. 8,5000 crore, that is 16% to 20% of the total industry.

The restaurant industry offers tremendous scope for growth if adequately tapped. For instance, converting the unorganised into the organized segment would enhance revenues besides providing additional employment opportunities.

Refining and upgrading this segment, introducing hygiene standards, better quality of foodstuffs, improved equipment and facilities and training of staff in culinary as well as service techniques would create the potential for an increase in the present percentage of the organized segment.

Restaurants in the organized segment are classified as fine dining, casual dining, bars & lounges, quick service restaurants, food courts, cafes and kiosks. Presently 60% of the restaurant business is in the unorganized segment which includes roadside eateries or dhabas, street stalls, hawkers, tea stalls, etc.

A study on food preferences showed that given a choice of regional and international cuisines, 35% of restaurant-goers would opt for South Indian, 27% for North Indian, 11% for Bengali, 9% for Mughlai, 6% for Rajasthani, 22% for Chinese, 3% for Thai and 1% for Italian cuisine.

Among the preferred restaurant formats multicuisine restaurants take the lion’s share at 57%, speciality restaurants 22%, self-service Indian restaurants and food carts 5%, quick service restaurants 3% and others 7%.

With 64% of India’s population of 1.21 billion in the working age of 15-64 years, this segment powers the economy, contributes to the gross domestic product, boosts consumer demand, comprises the section of society which visits hotels, restaurants and shopping malls, uses public and private transport to commute for work or leisure and buys a variety of goods and services besides contributing to the revenue.

This segment of the population continues to increase in number and is a key factor in development Exposure to international factors through television, the print media or travel has led to marked changes in lifestyle patterns.

These include imbibing different values and preferences as compared to that of the previous generation. In relation to eating habits, restaurants are considered as family meeting venues, convenient places for social gatherings and providers of efficient facilities such as home delivery services. These factors contribute to the changing dynamics in the restaurant industry.

Dining at a restaurant is basically a leisure-time activity and there can be a number of reasons which can be attributed towards this activity. They are fun 25%, time with family 18%, relaxation and mood upliftment 13%, time for self 7% and refreshment 3%. The rise in urbanization and consumerism, increase of the middle class population and disposable income, and greater health awareness are among the various factors for the promotion of restaurants in the organized segment.

Another major factor impacting the restaurant industry is tourism, both inbound and domestic. Some restaurants in many cities are on the must-visit list on tourist itinerararies. Tourists are the biggest users of restaurants and this leads to a higher level of exposure in the tourist circuit. Media exposure leads to additional publicity in national and international circles. The variety and wealth of cuisines has added to the popularity of the restaurant industry in India.

Trends in Food Production by Chain Restaurants

The current revenues generated by the Indian Restaurant Industry are Rs. 43,000 crore annually and are growing at the rate of 5% to 6% per annum in both the organized and unorganized sector. The organized segment is estimated at between Rs. 7,000 crore to Rs. 8,500 crore or 16% to 20% of the total industry. Restaurants in the organized segment, that is 40% of the restaurant business, are classified as fine dining, casual dining, bars and lounges, quick service restaurants, food courts, cafes and kiosks.

Two major factors impacting the restaurant industry are the changing lifestyle of the local community and the increase in spending power by a growing percentage of the population. Local communities and corporates are the biggest users of restaurants and the presence of chain restaurants, whether in metropolitan cities or on a pan-India basis, offering a varied choice of cuisines has added to the popularity of the restaurant industry.

In India a number of chain restaurants serving multicuisine fare have started operations and they need to include the creation of central kitchens in their future plans. These central kitchens would be the place where they will pre-fabricate the food. A pre-fabricating unit is for the purpose of doing pre-preparation (mis-en-plas), that is organizing and arranging the ingredients such as mutton, fish and poultry, sauces, vegetables, fruit, par-cooked items, spices and other components that a cook will require for preparation of dishes of the menu.

In a hotel having a number of restaurants this work is assigned to the commissary kitchen where foods are processed from raw to ready-to-eat or semi-cooked and would include areas such as garde manger, butchery, seafood preparation, poultry preparation and vegetable preparation, etc.

Creation of central kitchens/pre-fabricating units would result in the following:

Reduction in Lease Rentals
Real estate prices are increasing day-to-day.
Generally a chain restaurant is located in high-end areas such as a shopping mall or a major marketplace where lease rentals are high. Owners could save on the restaurants’ rental costs by creation of central kitchens in areas with lower rentals. Chain restaurants without central kitchens have to do their mis-en-plas at each individual restaurant presently thereby increasing lease costs.

Benefits of Bulk Buying
The bulk purchase of vegetables and fruit would give the chain restaurant the advantage of better pricing due to the volume of food items bought and the logistics involved.

Better Inventory Management
The daily requirements of each chain restaurant or service point can be pinpointed thereby leading to efficiency in supplies.

Standardisation & Portion Control
The food processing areas will prepare the basic sauces, gravies and curries which would result in the standardization of the quality of the food as well as guaranteed portion control. Processing of the food items as per the menu requirement of the restaurants or service points at a centralized unit would also ensure standardization of all the raw material bought from the marketplace.

Waste Reduction
The level of wastage would be kept under control as the food production unit will be responsible for yields.

Reduced Staff & Energy Costs
Lowering of staff costs and energy expenditure which are presently very high can be ensured by purchase of the latest energy-efficient equipment for peeling, cutting and portioning of the raw materials.

Central kitchens relieve heavy on-site preparation which enables the main kitchen to concentrate on the actual cooking, presentation and service. There is no need to duplicate facilities which are available and which can be performed better and cheaper through the modern methods of bulk buying and production.

In future a combination of advanced techniques of work combined with automation may be introduced to do the mis-en-plas. The human element and personal touch in the kitchen, however, cannot be replaced or replicated.

Presently quick service restaurants such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Haldirams and Nirulas have centralized kitchens/pre-fabricating units. In future the fine dining restaurant chains will have to think about setting up similar units. I suggest that the Carlson Group which has 27 hotels and other hotel groups with a large volume of food business in the National Capital Region of Delhi should also think of creating a centralized kitchen for all their hotels and as a result be more competitive.

Ministry Boost to Creation of Tourism Parks
This article by Mr. Anil Bhandari was printed as the Guest Column of the TravTalk issue dated February 2010

Union Minister for Tourism Shri Subodh Kant Sahai informed at the National Tourism Advisory Council meeting held in December 2011 that 35 Tourism Parks are planned by the year 2016. The Ministry had sought an allocation for this purpose from the Planning Commission in the 12th Five-Year Plan outlay for development of these Tourism Parks.

The proposal for creation of Special Tourism Economic Zones/Parks was suggested by me as Chairman of the PHDCCI Tourism Committee in the year 2007. We are happy and delighted with the announcement made by the Tourism Minister and the acceptance of my proposal by the Ministry of Tourism.

A national-level consultant has been appointed which is in the process of identifying regions for Tourism Parks in each State/Union Territory and the list of those identified would be available soon.

Initially, in the first phase 20 Tourism Parks will be located in developed, underdeveloped, unexplored areas of tourist interest with a proposed outlay of Rs, 1,000 crore. The Central Government would provide core infrastructure and tax incentives while the concerned State Governments would provide tax incentives, speedy clearances, higher FAR and connectivity. The plan is to develop these Tourism Parks in Public-Private Partnership mode.

Each Tourism Park is to have a minimum of 50 acres of land. As suggested by me earlier, each Tourism Park would have sufficient land earmarked for hotels, convention centres, theme parks and skill-training centres. As in Sentosa in Singapore and Cancun in Mexico there would be facilities for craft centres, haats, entertainment and amusement, food streets, sports and hosting of cultural events and festivals.

Development of the Tourism Parks would be through PPP and/or SPV of the Central and State Governments with the land to be provided by the State Government or private partners. Involvement of the local community through participation and employment would benefit the region’s population and economic growth.

Tourism makes a significant contribution to the country’s foreign exchange earnings which grew to Rs. 64,889 crore in 2010 from Rs. 54,960 crore during 2009, registering a growth of 18.1%. Creation of Tourism Parks would lead to additional revenue generation for the concerned State Government as well as promote multiplier effects through generation of employment, poverty alleviation and other socio-economic benefits which impact the local community.

Major gains for the concerned players would be as follows:

The benefits for investors:
(1) Provides single-window clearance;
(2) Environmental controls;
(3) Fiscal benefits, tax holiday etc.

Benefits for tourists
(1) Availability of integrated facilities at one place;
(2) Greater choice through a basket of services;
(3) Freedom from touts and beggars;
(4) Clean and regulated environment.

The state governments will gain by:

(1) Higher inflow of investments;
(2) Increased employment opportunities;
(3) Easier regulation of the environment;
(4) Focused tourism development.

Presently the reason for people not investing in the development of hotels is lack of availability of land, high cost of land, long procedures and multiple clearances for building hotels, and lack of basic infrastructure. There is no land currently earmarked in Master Plans of State Governments for hotels. This results in haphazard development of hotels, impacting the environment.

Earlier I had suggested that the land for Tourism Parks should be given on long-term lease or through PPP scheme. This land should then be leased out at reasonable rates to investors with the condition that facilities should be built within four years or else the deposit amount would be confiscated. All approvals and licences to start the hotels/activities should be in place beforehand.

I feel that the creation of Tourism Parks in or near places of tourist interest such as commercial and business districts, hill stations and religious locations will attract foreigners and Indians in large numbers thereby providing safe and sustainable tourism.

Preserving our Cultural Wealth
The National Cultural Fund (NCF) helps in preserving India’s cultural heritage through Public-Private Partnership (PPP)

NCF was set up to innovate in an effective manner the preservation and promotion of India’s rich and diverse culture. NCF is associated with leading corporate houses, public sector units, international trusts and funding agencies to introduce new patterns of cultural funding in India.

NCF has taken up conservation and preservation of monuments such as the Taj Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Humayun’s Tomb and others. NCF also supports activities related to the performing arts and visual arts through its secondary corpus.and other intangible heritage.It is working in collaboration with organizations such as the Ramakrishna Mission, Ramanna Maharishi Centre, Kishkinda Trust, etc.

The Indian Trust for Rural Heritage & Development, a non-government organization constituted with the purpose of preserving and promoting tangible and intangible rural heritage to bring about rural development, is one of the beneficiaries of the NCF.

The eligibility criteria for assistance includes any government or voluntary organization n working in the field of art and culture and registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 or registered as a public trust for at least two years. After ascertaining the merits of the project, NCF links it with corporate sponsorship or, in some cases, finances the project.

NCF accepts private individuals and institutions as equal partners of the government in the management of India’s cultural heritage. It enables the government to mobilize direct contributions to the NCF account maintained outside the Consolidated Fund of India.

Under the NCF a donor can identify a project along with any specific location / aspect for funding and also an agency for execution of the project, subject to the policy, guidelines and rules. All contributions to NCF are given 100% tax exemption under Section 80 G of the Income-Tax Act 1961.

NCF is managed and administered by a council chaired by the Minister for Culture and an executive committee chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Culture. To increase non-governmental participation in the decision-making process, members of the NCF Council are from corporate houses, private foundations, experts in various art forms and academicians.

Institute to Research, Promote Indian Cuisine
Mr. Anil Bhandari writes about his proposal to the government through the Indian Culinary Forum and the PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry forum to have a Culinary Institute of India to research, standardise and promote Indian cuisine internationally.

A committee comprising myself and Dr.Lalit Panwar, Chairman & Managing Director, ITDC, Mr. Lalit Nirula, Mr. Sudhir Sibal, V-P (Hotels) ITDC, Ms. Manisha Bhasin, Executive Chef, ITC Welcomgroup, and Mr. N. S. Bhuie, Director (Studies), NCHM&CT, Noida was established for the setting up of the National Culinary Academy of India (NCAI).

The members of the committee discussed and deliberated on various issues concerning the setting up of the institute and submitted a report which was accepted by the Government of India. Recognising the dearth of a right training ground to groom chefs of international standards the government decided to set up a culinary institute with the Ministry of Tourism as the promoting body.

The institute would function at two levels. The national-level institute will be located at Noida and the regional centre at Pinjore. Initially, similar centres are planned for Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. With the available site at Noida in the National Capital Region, NCR may be developed as the national institute while four regional institutes can function, one each at Pinjore (Haryana), Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.

The national level institute at Noida shall be the mother institute, as the headquarter and have major facilities like Research & Documentation, Culinary Museum, Patent and Legal cell, world-class resource centre, besides a regular Culinary Institute. The regional centres would concentrate on training and development of regional cuisines.

The ministry has earmarked 5 acres for the purpose at A-35, Sector 62, Noida. The State Government of Haryana has placed three acres of land at the disposal of the ministry for the purpose. State Governments of other cities may be requested to allot approximately 5 to 10 acres of land for establishment of a regional culinary institute.

The institutes will have a full-time core faculty who will teach the fine art of Food Preparation and Kitchen Management. The proposed institutes may draw Indian and International recognition through tie-ups with reputed universities in the field of hospitality. It will invite lectures from world-renowned faculty and practicing chefs to train Indian and International students. It will be positioned as a premier culinary institute in the South-East Asia region.

The infrastructure will be the best available, with hi-tech gadgetries and kitchen appliances required for imparting hospitality education and culinary courses. Besides temperature-controlled class rooms and laboratories, the institute is proposed to provide excellent housing facility for its pupils comprising an international hostel for visiting overseas faculty, who come on short-term contract or on exchange programmes. The institute complex will also have attached training restaurants and hotel accommodation, which will provide hands-on training to its residential students.

The core group decided that the institute may be planned to conduct the following programmes of study:

• Bachelor of Science/Arts in Culinary Education – A 3-year bachelor’s degree on the lines of similar programmes offered by the Culinary Institute of America. The programme will require IGNOU acceptance for award of degrees.
• Six months to one year certificate/diploma programs in various fields of Food Production.
• Two to four weeks specialised and tailor-made professional development programmes of various levels and fields for industry professionals and institution faculty.
• Skill and competency certification – a lot of skilled workforce under the category of chefs seek international jobs and require competency certification, a mandatory requirement by foreign missions in India. Many individuals are serving in the industry with ample levels of proficiency through on-the-job training but without formal certification of their skills. NCAI would develop a system for testing and certification of their skills which would have worldwide recognition.
• One-year diploma program in Food & Beverage Service Management – The NCAI will have restaurants open to the public to create a commercial atmosphere for the learning chefs. A one-year diploma in F&B Service & Management will take care of service and management of the restaurants. Admissions would be made twice in a year so that at any given time a mix of junior and senior students are available for service.

There are very few books and other references available which authenticate regional cuisines of the different States of India. This has resulted in diminishing popularity of Indian cuisine. The NCAI could make efforts to unearth, research and document such popular recipes facing extinction.

For setting up of Research & Development division NCAI would provide the following:

• Fully equipped and state- of-the-art R&D wing/division
• R&D wing would undertake research projects dedicated to explore and improvise the potential of regional cuisine and culinary traditions and heritage
• Offer fellowship to scholars for doing research on Culinary Heritage and Arts of India
• Join hands with leading Culinary institutes of world like Culinary Institute of America – CIA, Lausanne Hotel School, Switzerland and the Le Cordon Bleu of France especially in R&D sector

Various facilities like e-library, physical library, museum, data bases and other relevant facilities would be housed which would provide ready authentic reference to researchers and connoisseur of Culinary Art.

MoT-appointed core committee for Culinary Institute submits report
The core committee appointed by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India to study the broad framework for the proposed National Culinary Institute submits report to government: newsitem in Indian Hospitality publication TravelBiz Monitor dated May 2011

According to sources in the government, the core committee has recommended an apex culinary institute in the lines of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) with a governing body comprising both industry representatives and government nominees.

The core committee headed by Lalit K Panwar, Chairman and Managing Director, India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), with members including Anil Bhandari, NS Bhuie, Chef Manisha Bhasin, Sudhir Sibal, and Lalit Narula has recommended a model comprising a ‘mother’ institute and various ‘regional’ institutes under it. The committee has also made comprehensive recommendations about the modalities of the courses, management, etc.

The mother institute will be set up in Noida within the Indian Institute of Travel & Tourism Management (IITTM) campus. This campus will function as resource, research and documentation centre for Indian cuisines.

Apart from the Noida centre, MoT has plans to set up a regional centre at Pinjore in Haryana in the first phase. Haryana government has already handed over a two-acre land near Pinjore Garden to MoT to set up the institute there.

MoT plans to set up regional institutes in all the remaining three regions as well. According to sources, the government will approach state governments to spare land for setting up the institute. When asked about the course curriculum, the official said that the same would be developed with the help of eminent Chefs in the trade. The first two institutes are expected to commence operations from July 2013.

Disaster Management in the Hospitality Sector
Mr. Anil Bhandari, Co-Chairman Tourism Committee, PHD, chaired a conference on Disaster Preparedness for the Hospitality Sector organized by the PHD Chamber in September 2010. The following are his views on the subject.

Disasters are unforeseen circumstances, natural or manmade, which could lead to tragic consequences. Proper management can minimise the resultant damages. This involves two phases.

The first step deals with the preparations to meet any kind of disaster. Effective planning followed by training and drills at all levels of staff, with appropriate equipment can enhance the capacity to respond effectively to natural calamities such as floods and fire, and manmade ones such as sabotage, blasts and terrorist strikes. It is the level of preparedness that determines the outcome.

Measures to prevent the occurrence of a disaster require:

• Strictly follow building plans and laws. They have been created for your and the guests’ safety.
• Follow the laws laid down by the fire department authorities.
• Scan and check properly all guests, visitors, baggage and goods.
• Train staff specially in anticipation of eventualities.
• Conduct mock drills to keep staff alert.
• Staff should report unusual activities of guests.
• Periodically check preventive equipment to confirm working status.
• Update all manuals meant for training of staff.
• Ensure accessibility of hotel building plans for convenience of fire services and other authorities.

The second phase involves how to manage after a disaster strikes. Steps to be taken are:

• Inform police and hospital.
• Evacuate guests to secure areas.
• Give first aid to injured.
• Remove injured guests to hospital.
• Cordon off affected area.
• Avoid chaos and confusion.
• Call insurance company agents / surveyors.
• Take photographs / a movie of affected areas.
• Deploy staff to normalize services.
• Depute a senior executive as spokesperson to communicate with the media.
• Start rectification of the hotel immediately.
• Inform all guests with advance bookings in case it takes time to normalize hotel services.
• Disasters create havoc when they happen. The impact is even more in the Hospitality sector and the after-effects are felt for a longer time as compared to that in other sectors.

The impact of a disaster in the Hospitality sector is much more far-reaching as even one incident can lead to long-range setbacks, negatively impact the nation’s tourism industry, lead to a drop in revenue, foreign exchange earnings, loss of jobs and setbacks in related sectors.

The November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai highlighted this point as the affected hotels had to be closed for renovation work and there was a short-term affect on tourist inflow to India.

I have personally experienced natural and manmade disasters during my tenure in the Hospitality sector in the last 41 years.

At Hotel Patliputra, Patna, in 1975 while the hotel had its soft opening it got flooded. We looked after the needs of our hotel guests and the staff for 3 days till the floodwaters receded. The post-flood situation was even harder. We had to sanitise the hotel, ensure hygienic conditions and restore normalcy.

In Mahabalipuram 2 cottages of our hotel which is located along the seashore were washed away during an unusual high tide. Fortunately there was no casualty.

There have been incidents of small fires at the Ashok and a major fire at the health club of Samrat Hotel in Delhi. Smoke entered the air-conditioning ducts and all the guests had to be evacuated. Quick action resulted in restoration of normalcy within 6 hours.

During the 1984 riots in Delhi, at Hotel Kanishka we ensured the safety and security of our guests as well as that of members of the Sikh community who were working with us.

The bomb blasts I experienced were in Mumbai in March 1993 when I was Chairman of India Tourism Development Corporation and Managing Director of Hotel Corporation of India.

Two of our hotels, Centaur Juhu and Centaur Airport bore the brunt of the blasts. At the Airport hotel all the glassworks were shattered and the water connections were disrupted due to the impact. Our contingency plans were well in place.

The glassworks were replaced on the 3rd day after the blast and, as if nothing had happened, the Miss India Femina contest was held, as scheduled, on the 4th day at Centaur Juhu where 3 rooms had been blown up. Life was back to normal.

During all these incidents we maintained calm, worked out an action plan with the aim to normalize all services as soon as possible. Coordinated efforts led to positive results. The Hospitality sector must synchronise its preparedness with the local authorities in order to meet and counter disaster situations.

Promoting Incredible India through Indian Cuisine
India has the largest number of cuisines in the world. The wealth of spices and their varied usage by our master chefs has enriched Indian kitchens. All sections of society, every caste, community and region have their own distinct cuisines. The varieties could run into several hundreds

Yet Indian cuisine has not made a mark in international kitchens. This can be attributed to the absence of information about the different types of cuisines. Recipes were generally passed down by word of mouth and not documented. Compiling a data bank should be the first step to correct this shortcoming.

Researchers will need to visit different regions and note down details and cooking methodologies. Field trips to farms where the spices and vegetables are grown and visits to select homes and hotels to learn culinary basics from housewives and chefs, to street food markets and prominent restaurants to catch the local flavours, to kitchens in religious places and ethnic eateries are necessary to understand the methodology of cooking. Recording of regional recipes and standardization after research will lead in the long range to an imprint visible to the world.

India cuisine also has the healing power for a large number of ailments. Ingredients like turmeric, cloves, cardamom, etc., apart from making food delicious also work as antidotes for ailments. This needs to be researched by chefs and the findings recorded.

Culinary Institutes where chefs can research, standardize and develop should be created. These Institutes, focusing on India’s cuisines, should be opened by the government in public-private partnership and by the private sector. This would result in creating instructor Chefs who will train others and help popularize Indian regional recipes all over the world.

French and continental cuisines are known all over the world. As these cuisines were well documented (Larousse, Cordon Bleu) Culinary institutes in France and Switzerland have trained chefs resulting in their popularity today. China became popular by promoting their cuisine worldwide. The Italians are now promoting their cuisines across the world.

Promotion of India’s incredible cuisines internationally would add to its tourism potential in the international as well as the domestic market. The “icing” on the “cake” should be tours with the purpose of studying cuisines of different regions, depending on the preferences of individual tourists.

Cuisine Tourism could be a major draw for NRIs wanting to get a taste of their culinary roots. The choice of cities for these learning-cum-sightseeing tours could be wide-ranging, and include cities such as Delhi, Lucknow, Jaipur and Amritsar in the North, Ahmedabad and Mumbai in the West, Kolkata in the East and Chennai, Kochi and Hyderabad in the South. There is no limit to the choice of destinations.

The Ministry of Tourism could involve restaurant and hotel associations, travel agents, tour operators, culinary institutes and other cuisine-related institutions, farmers, spice-growers as well as the tourism departments of the concerned states to propagate and promote the Cuisine Tourism concept.

The Department of Tourism should create Cuisine circuits and promote Cuisine Tourism.

Namaste India
Mr. Anil Bhandari, in an article printed the TravTalk issue dated March 2010 suggests the Department of Tourism encourage use of our Indian form of greeting. DoT could launch a programme to train and promote the use of “Namaste” as it would be an ideal opportunity to display our Indianness to guests visiting the country

As Indians we greet one another with a “Namaste.” This form of greeting, however, is being used less frequently, especially in metropolitan cities.

The Indian style of greeting guests, with the palms joined at chest level, fingers pointed upwards, head slightly bowed and a “Namaste” with a smile, means “I bow to you.” A sign of greeting and a display of respect, the word is derived from the Sanskrit namas (to bow, pay obeisance) and te (to you). There are variations depending on the region, as in South India, where the salutation used is “Namaskaram.”

The traditional “Namaste” is being overtaken by the new generation’s breezy “Good Morning,” depending on the time of the day, or a wave of the hand followed by a “Hi there.” The sociological culture of formal salutation has turned into a handshake or a casual gesture.

But this is not so in other countries. For instance, in Thailand it is “Wai,” in Sri Lanka “Ayu bow an,” in Japan an “Ohayo gozaimasu” translates into “good morning,” and in Germany it is “Guten Morgen.”

Then why are we Indians departing from our traditional form of greeting? Is it in continuation of the British form, a hangover from the colonial era? Whatever be the reason, the system of shaking hands with friends, or strangers, could possibly spread infections. On the other hand, a “Namaste” is hygienic.

The Department of Tourism should encourage the use of our Indian form of greeting. It could launch a programme to train and promote the use of “Namaste.” The Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi would be an ideal opportunity to display our Indianness to our guests who will be visiting the country.

The primary targets for the promotional drive should be those in the frontline of interaction, such as porters at airports and railway stations, taxi and auto-drivers and staff at hotels and restaurants. At the secondary level would be those manning tourist-related places like emporiums, shopping centers, tourist sites, local tourism department and government offices, guides and tourist police. The private sector could take up the initiative with the Department of Tourism to use and promote the Indian way of greeting “Namaste.”

The common man too needs be encouraged to promote our Indianness. Let us say “Namaste” to each other. Let us convey the cultural richness that flows from this simple form of greeting to our guests and visitors from other lands.

Responsible Tourism, New Tourism Mantra
WTM World Responsible Tourism Day is being celebrated on 11th November 2009, supported by the UNWTO and major industry associations. The day signifies promotion and preservation of heritages and cultures keeping in mind the views and needs of local communities

The Indian Tourism Ministry, recognising the potential of going back to India’s roots, has identified 125 rural tourism sites and has associated itself with the United Nations Development Programme, which is confined to 36 sites.

Realising the long-term benefits of promoting responsible tourism many entrepreneurs are implementing practices such as recycling of water and waste, conservation of energy and promotion of natural resources. The entrepreneurs are self-financing to ensure their property meets international green standards.

Rural tourism presents India with an opportunity to showcase the rural experience, where 75% of India’s population lives. Some state governments have taken a pro-active interest in promoting this environmentally and economically sustainable development. The concept of rural tourism offers a foreign tourist or an NRI visitor a novel experience. Bullock cart rides, kite flying, visits to the local bangle and khadi production units, all these give a new twist to an old tale besides boosting the local economy through supplementary sources of income.

Responsible tourism was initiated by the Kerala government and they held the second international conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations at Kochi in 2008. The conference was organised by Kerala Tourism and the India unit of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, with India Tourism as a partner. It was a sequel to the Cape Town conference held in South Africa a few years ago.

Kerala was chosen as the venue because the state took the initiative in responsible tourism backed by good working models. For instance, Kerala was successful in persuading hotels and resorts in select areas to procure vegetables and groceries from the locals rather than source these from other states. Kovalam, Kumarakom, Thekkady and Wynad in Kerala will be developed on the basis of responsible tourism.

The first International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations held in Cape Town recognized that the policies and objectives of responsible tourism reflect local cultural and environmental priorities. Successful implementation of the principles of responsible tourism depend on the community in an area, the government machinery, policies in place, cultural and traditional practices, geographical settings, and environment and resources that help sustain the activities in and around a destination.

The many strengths of tourism are well known. It creates jobs, boosts economic and social development, nurtures the environment, preserves cultures and provides pleasure to hundreds of millions of tourists. Promoting tourism brings more people onto the ladder of economic growth and helps reduce the chain of poverty.

Since the mid 1990s there has been a shift towards defining economic performance in terms of the “triple bottomline” – growth that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. Responsible tourism addresses this shift by giving equal weight to the economy, society and the environment – the three pillars of sustainable development.

Tourists themselves are becoming increasingly vigilant consumers. Hotels, to improve the overall experience for their guests, are providing healthy environmental surroundings by promoting natural resources. Responsible environmental practice has other benefits such as reducing energy and water bills, sewage treatment and waste disposal costs.

Waste Management techniques are being given priority by ecotourism-friendly hotels and resorts all over the globe. Since 2003 tourism accommodation operators in the European Union can apply for the EU Eco-label. These operators must meet minimum standards which include use of renewable energy sources, reduction in energy and water consumption and measures to reduce waste.

EU green hotels follow guidelines such as: Use of non-toxic cleaning agents and laundry detergent; 100% organic cotton sheets, towels and mattresses; renewable energy sources like solar or wind energy; guest room and hotel lobby recycling bins; energy-efficient lighting; on-site transportation with green vehicles; serve organic and local-grown food; graywater recycling, that is, re-use of kitchen, bath and laundry water for gardens and landscaping; and a newspaper recycling program.

Some hotels in India too have introduced green measures such as:
Recycling of water for horticultural purposes; reducing water consumption by fixing foam flow faucets; using sludge from sewage treatment plants as manure; fixing solar energy panels to reduce electricity expenses; using bags made out of newspapers; and buying locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

Responsible tourism could be a matter of survival. Local communities need to be meaningfully involved in tourism to perceive its benefits. Good economic practices can create jobs, stimulate entrepreneurship and boost regional economic growth. A responsible approach ensures that all sectors of society benefit from a healthy tourism cycle.

Adopting responsible tourism practices are crucial for ensuring sustained growth. The emphasis must be on respecting human rights, promoting knowledge and an understanding of the environment, promoting organic farming, reducing the carbon footprint and energy consumption by utilising solar and other renewable sources of energy whenever feasible. We should give at least as much as we benefit, as individuals, an operation and as an organisation. This will engender sustainability.

In line with global practices, India and other countries in Asia should develop their own guidelines and standards for certification and issuance of eco-labels to hotels and resorts. Green properties fulfilling the set minimum standards of eco-hygiene will help boost the level of confidence of prospective guests, maximize local economic levels, encourage the regional arts and culture, and preserve the environment.