All businesses have to be adoptive towards the changing scenario caused by any internal and external factors. This can be made possible only when there is a collective effort from all the stake holders including the management and employees.
MS. Please tell us about your professional journey and significant accomplishments thus far in your fascinating career as someone with experience in the tourism business.
Syed Junaid. As the Managing Director of Empyrean Skyview Projects and the Executive Director of the FIL Group, I have had the opportunity to be involved in the inception and growth of the business. I am passionate about the tourism sector and the business involved. India does not only have a significant domestic tourism business, but also has several unexplored destinations that can find their place on the global tourism map. The establishment and commercial opening of Skyview by Empyrean was a result of deep strategic planning, international collaboration, and the vision of creating a destination unlike anywhere else.
MS. Please tell me about your approach to implementing best practices and principles in establishing mountain tourism development in India. How would you describe Empyrean Skyview as a one-stop service for bringing the best of outdoor leisure, adventure, and sports activities to tourists?
Syed Junaid. India has immense scope for mountain tourism. Empyrean Skyview Projects Private Limited seeks to create a benchmark for mountain tourism of the highest standard. This is made possible through a series of practices and principles that we implement in our everyday operations and overall business. We are the signatory to Future of Tourism, a member/affiliate of the following tourism associations and bodies: ATOAI, TAAI, ADTOI, IATO, and J&K Tourism. Additionally, we are an Associate Member of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Grand Patron of Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI), a Signatory Member of World Travel Mart (WTM), member of “Leave no trace” and of the Indo French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI). Additionally, we offer leisure and adventure activities that are unique to India.
MS. As a wholly owned subsidiary of FIL Industries Private Limited, what is the business focus of Empyrean Skyview Projects?
Syed Junaid. The business focus of Empyrean Skyview Projects Private Limited is towards tourism, lifestyle, adventure, and public infrastructure. It endeavours to be the frontrunner in rustic luxury, adventure tourism, and lifestyle activities. It focuses on mountain tourism and seeks to introduce the thrill of being outdoors while abiding wholistically to responsible and sustainable tourism. We are determined in promoting green urban mobility by collaborating with leading global brands and partnering with the best national and international names. Furthermore, we seek to celebrate the oneness of the human spirit with nature in its abundance. We believe in sustainable tourism activities based on natural and environmental values, a fundamental for mountain areas seeking to attract tourists without negatively impacting the natural and cultural heritage.
MS. When it comes to handling adventurous rides and sports, many safety precautions must be considered. What measures do Empyrean Skyview Projects take to avoid accidents and ensure tourist safety?
Syed Junaid. You have rightly pointed out that the safety of tourists and our guests are of utmost importance. To ensure this, we follow several preventive and safety checks. To begin with, our CEN certified gondola undergoes over 200+ safety checks every day. It is also pertinent to mention that Skyview Gondola is maintained by a team that is a competent mix of experienced and young POMA certified ropeway engineers. We also ensure that guests using our zig-zag zipline and tubing sledge follow a series of safety drills and checks in addition to the use of safety equipment. We have also launched outdoor activities such as camping, hiking trails, and mountain biking. All these activities are led by trained guides and professionals. Furthermore, we also have an in-house medical room, where all first aid and emergency care is provided.
MS. Maintaining a healthy environment while creating a positive impact on the local population is how sustainable tourism maximizes business efficiency. What have you done to manage sustainable tourism operations without severely damaging the natural and cultural heritage?
Syed Junaid. As a responsible member of the society, we are committed to ensuring that we do all that it takes to adhere to responsible tourism. I would like to mention here that responsible tourism is an aspect that is very close to me personally and to the stakeholders of the organisation. We have made sure that we take all steps to ensure that we offer a world-class destination while we ensure that the natural and cultural environment of our surroundings is preserved and promoted. Skyview Gondola is one of the leading sources of green urban mobility, which does not emit any pollution. It gives me immense pride in sharing with you that we are the first gondola in India which hovers over trees and we had made sure that not a single tree was cut during our construction.
Our destination receives a significant amount of rainfall and we have taken several measures to promote rain-water harvesting. The raw material used in our restaurants, café, and employees cafeteria is procured locally and is all organic. Our unique architecture is inspired by the culture and heritage of the region. We also have provided employment to 200+ employees from the region and provided them with international standards of training.
MS. What are the governments and private sector’s roles and responsibilities in the development of sustainable tourism?
Syed Junaid. The government and private sector need to go hand in gloves to ensure that the development of sustainable tourism is executed. Since 2019, we have worked closely with local and national level government organisations and associations to ensure that we fulfil our roles and responsibilities towards the development of sustainable tourism.
MS. What has been the most challenging component of handling the current state of uncertainty? What measures do you employ to maintain your motivation and optimism?
Syed Junaid. As an entrepreneur, challenges are not new to me or to our organisation. We are confident and optimistic that with proper planning, strategies, and collective effort we can tackle any situation and come out even stronger. To ensure that our employees are regularly motivated and optimistic, we ensure that there is regular two-way communication within the organisational set up. We also have several employee centric initiatives to ensure that they are able to refrain from being demotivated and can tackle any challenge.
MS. What are your thoughts on the claim that COVID-19 is a catalyst for reinventing the future of work and skills? How has Empyrean Skyview Projects handled the obstacles during and after Covid-19?
Syed Junaid. COVID-19 undoubtedly was an unexpected event in modern day history and like all businesses, we too were impacted. However, on the bright side, it gave us an ample amount of time to train ourselves, establish strategies for the future, and look at ways of handling any situation. I am also of the opinion that COVID-19 is a part of our lives and all we can do is take all preventive measures to ensure the safety of our guests and employees. We were audited by SGS, which is a leading audit company in the world, it closely checked our numerous preventive measures. We also have taken all the precautions as rolled out by the government and WHO.
MS. New technologies will need new jobs; how has Empyrean Skyview Projects solved the challenges during and after Covid-19?
Syed Junaid. It gives me immense pride in saying that we have been able to adapt and overcome the challenges that COVID-19 brought with itself. We witnessed a decent footfall to our property of guests from across the country. One of the major challenges was to ensure that our guests and employees were safe while they visited or worked for us. We made sure that guests had to go through temperature checks and fill out the health declaration form. We also ensured that all our employees were vaccinated and trained as per the WHO and local government guidelines.
MS. What do you have in mind for the year 2022? What would be your message to the entire industry?
Syed Junaid. 2022 is set to be an important year for us, where we look forward to revamping our restaurant in Skyview by Empyrean, offering the highest standards of hospitality and service in our rooms and suites, along with enhancing our offerings. We will also be progressing towards completing our upcoming project in Mussoorie, where we aim to establish one of the longest ropeways in the world. The message that I would like to share with the entire industry would be that all businesses have to be adoptive towards the changing scenario caused by any internal and external factors. This can be made possible only when there is a collective effort from all the stake holders including the management and employees. Together, there can be no challenge that cannot be overcome.