COVID-19 outbreak has presented unprecedented circumstances before the fragile tourism and hospitality industry. The highly infectious novel coronavirus continues to thwart the sector and raises serious questions about the present and future survival of the sector. The research addresses two important concerns, first, pertains to the major challenges that hospitality and tourism industry faces amid current conditions; and second relates to the vital learnings for the industry. The study draws on the interviews with 15 participants in senior positions in hospitality industry, and tourism and hospitality education services. Responses to the interviews were content analysed, which resulted in 27 sub-themes that were further condensed into 4 major themes. The dominant sub-themes that emerged out of the qualitative enquiry included need of multiskilling and professional development of the employees, increased sense of hygiene, sanitation and related SOPs, optimism toward revival of the industry, media roles, and need of better crisis preparedness. Subsequent overarching themes included “Human Resource Management”, “Health and Hygiene”, “Continuity” and “Concerns”. The study critically discusses prominent themes in the light of the existing arguments from the literature and reflects on implications for the decision makers. The major implications of the study are in the form of determined themes adding to the evolving theory on COVID-19 pandemic and tourism & hospitality industry; and managerial recommendations to address host of issues while taking essential learnings stemming from the current circumstances. Limitations and scope of future research are also discussed.