AAHOA delegation embarks on new era of possibilities
In its 34-year history, AAHOA’s footprint has grown to nearly 20,000 members owning 60% of the hotels in the U.S. This growth makes AAHOA a powerhouse in the U.S. hospitality industry and on a global scale. With its powerful platform, a delegation of AAHOA Members joined top Indian dignitaries and leaders for a series of business meetings January 4-10, 2023. The featured stops in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and New Delhi all had one goal in common: creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the U.S. and India.
The delegation kicked off its business meetings with the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SGCCI) in Surat, Gujarat. The conversation reimagined the partnership between AAHOA hotel owners and India through the Gujarat textile industry.
It’s no secret that linens, towels, and pillows are major expenses for hotel owners, and most soft goods found in U.S. hotels are made in Bangladesh or Pakistan. But, during its first official stop, the delegation gained a further understanding of how cotton, yarn, linen, and other fabrics are at the heart of the Surat textile industry, sparking new opportunities to drive down hotel costs while contributing to India’s economic progress.
“It is time to leverage the power of the textile hub of Gujarat to create a mutually beneficial relationship while helping hotel owners cut costs and, at the same time, help the Indian economy,” AAHOA Chairman Neal Patel, one of the participants in the delegation. “In five years, at least 50% of AAHOA Member-owned hotels could proudly have products that say, ‘Made in India.’”
After meeting with SGCCI, the delegation visited Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghvi. This meeting continued discussions on Surat’s impressive textile industry and underscored the value young professionals bring to the economic growth of the U.S. and India.
“We have a check-in kiosk at our hotel, and four team members who help with the kiosk are based out of Surat, Gujarat,” Neal Patel explained. “We want to create more of these types of job opportunities with the help of the Indian government.”
The following day, AAHOA Members traveled to the Ahmedabad/Gandhinagar area for an official meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel, who also encouraged the delegates to save on the bottom line by sourcing and purchasing soft goods made in India.
Later in the trip, the delegates had an unforgettable experience being a part of the BAPS 100 Celebration event, a monthlong celebration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s everlasting legacy of values and spirituality. During the extraordinary event, Chairman Neal Patel was honored to share the stage with Param Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj and speak in front of 50,000 Bhaktos.
“It was special to experience the BAPS 100 Celebration,” Chairman Neal Patel recalled. “About 8,000 volunteers were working the event, and the majority of the volunteers were from the U.S. It was inspiring to see them volunteer selflessly with a smile on their face.”
From the Ahmedabad/Gandhinagar area, the Delegation traveled to Indore, a city in west-central India, to participate in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention. With a theme of “Diaspora: Reliable Partners for India’s Progress in Amrit Kaal,” this year’s three-day event recognized the contributions of NRIs (nonresident Indians) to the economic development of India. One of the highlights of PBD came when the Delegation had the absolute honor of attending a special meeting where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed those in attendance. Additionally, the Delegation made inroads with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangubhai C. Patel, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
AAHOA Chairman Neal Patel traveled to New Delhi for the last official business meeting. He spoke to Kishan Reddy, Minister of Tourism and Culture for India, and Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Education for India. Both leaders committed to partnering with AAHOA to create hospitality jobs in small towns of India and open the door for more youth to embark on global career experiences.
New economic opportunities and industry solutions are on the horizon. The Delegation extends heartfelt gratitude to all the leaders and dignitaries for including AAHOA in these important conversations and further strengthening ties between the U.S. and India.