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Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar

India will need 2,380 new commercial airplanes, valued at US$330 billion, to handle the growing demand for air travel over the next 20 years, as per Boeing’s annual India Commercial Market Outlook (CMO).

Speaking about the India market, Darren Hulst, Deputy Vice President, Commercial Marketing, The Boeing Company, said, “India will be amongst the world leaders in aviation sector in the coming years. Over 200 million households will be above US$ 20,000 income by 2035; this rise in middle class is the key for growth. Indian economy will grow by five times in next 30 years and by 2045, India will be the third largest economy. Over 9.2 per cent of Indian GDP is driven by the travel and tourism segment. India is the fastest growing aviation market with a delivery demand of 2,380 aircrafts and a traffic demand of close to eight per cent.”

Globally, aviation sector has maintained a steady growth and Asia has been the centre of growth. Overall, airlines will need 44,000 new aircrafts in the next 20 years with 32,420 single aisle; 2,240 regular jets and 1,040 freighters. Last year, the global fleet size was 28,830 which will almost double in 2028 at 50,660, with half of the aircrafts being used for growth, and rest to replace the existing fleet.

“20 years ago, the concentration of flights was in the North America and Western Europe. Today, Asia market has evolved drastically. Last year, the size has doubled to 110,000 flights per day in Asia. Today, around 12 million passengers board an aircraft every day. In 1988, 1.1 billion passengers travelled by air, in 2019 this number has grown to 2.6 billion. Almost 300 million passengers are added each year. Aviation adds US$ 2.7 trillion to the global economy, supports 65.5 million jobs and 3.6 per cent of the global GDP. The aviation market is resilient, sustainable and productive. Despite global slowdown and slow growth, aviation has grown strongly,” Hulst added.

In India, Boeing serves to Spice Jet, Air India, Vistara, and Jet Airways. Out of the demand of 2,380 planes, the Indian fleet basically consists of large requirement for further growth. Close to 79 per cent of the fleet is for growth and expansion and 20 per cent is for replacement.

Speaking about Jet Airways being grounded and further confirmed orders, Salil Gupte, President, Boeing India said, “Current confirmed orders from India market is for 205, B737 Max aircrafts and six B787-9 aircrafts. Jet Airways going down is a big loss as it was a very important customer for us. But as of now, all our contractual agreements with Jet Airways remain in place. India is the biggest investment for Boeing outside USA in the future. We are committed to the India market and the investment in the eco-system will be continuous.”

One of the interesting insight and a big opportunity to the Indian aviation industry is that currently India serves to only 35 per cent of the overall outbound capacities from India. “Indian carriers are in a very unique place for future. Out of the overall outbound traffic from India, only 35 per cent capacities are served by Indian carriers. Also on the India-Europe routes, only 37 per cent of the traffic is served by Indian carriers, rest of the business is done by foreign carriers. Hence, there is a huge scope and opportunity for the Indian carriers,” Hulst revealed.

Also, the domestic market has tripled in last 10 years and has almost doubled in last four years. In India, the airports served in 2008 were 81 which have grown by 37 per cent in 2018 with a total of 111 airports served.

Maharashtra is set to strengthen tourism infrastructure in the state to further boost numbers. In 2019-20, the state has received a budget of Rs 188 crore to develop the infrastructure and add new tourist amenities.

Speaking about the development, Dilip Gawade, Director, Directorate of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, said, “In terms of infrastructure development, for the year 2019-20, we have got a budget of Rs. 188 Crore under the regional tourism scheme. We are now processing and strengthening infrastructure, water supply, roads and other necessary amenities in the state.”

Maharashtra Tourism recently hosted a roadshow in Kolkata, to showcase their new flexible packages designed and tailored by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, including their resorts. The state is now looking to enhance their visibility in the domestic market by expanding their outreach by connecting with travel and trade industry across the country.

“We recently organised a roadshow in Kolkata to showcase our product offerings. As a part of our continuous endeavour to promote tourism in the state, we are inviting our brothers and sisters from the East to come and visit the state and be a part of the magnificent experience that the region will offer. Going forward, we will look to organise roadshows in New Delhi and Chennai,” Gawade added.

Maharashtra Tourism has been majorly showcasing tourism sectors like wildlife, beaches, heritage and religious tourism, along with niche sectors like wine tourism which are popular with international tourists.

On the product offerings, he further said, “In Maharashtra, we are looking to promote a variety of region and products. In Vidarbha, Tadoba and Pench, tiger tourism will be our major priority to promote aggressively. We are promoting scuba diving and beaches in the Konkan region. Sahyadri is another region which we have been promoting extensively. We are also looking to popularise our trekking trails such as Kalsubai Peak. Maharashtra has a unique diversity of landscape. We have one of the oldest Crater Lake, Lonar, which is yet to be explored by global travellers. We are now keen on attracting travellers to the Buddhist circuit.”

Also in a recent bid to develop Maharashtra as a world class destination, the newly appointed Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently advised the Tourism Department to draft a proposal for developing a high-end aquarium in Mumbai. The CM also stated that Mumbai is now attracting several foreign dignitaries and investors, and therefore, tourist places in Mumbai needs to be developed, for which a separate action plan needs to be put into place.

The CM also has discussed various tourism concepts, such as sea tourism, night safari in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and flamingo tourism. Since Mumbai is surrounded by sea, the minister is majorly focussing on water based tourism activities, which will be implemented in phases. Moreover, existing caves, such as the Mahakali Caves, Kanheri Caves, and Elephanta Caves etc., will also be developed.

The island of Taiwan has witnessed a 5.5 per cent growth from India in the first half of the year. Last year the destination welcomed 40,000 Indian travelers from across all segments. Taiwan is now aggressively focusing on the incentive market for growth.

Speaking about the current growth, Trust Lin, Director, Taiwan Tourism Bureau - Singapore office, said, “India is not only a potential FIT market for us, but it is an important market in terms of incentive. In the first quarter, we welcomed a big group from India from Hyundai and in second quarter we welcomed the Asus Group. We had more than 20 per cent growth in Q1 2019. But, due to the changing scenario Q2 went flat. We have a 5.5 per cent growth overall in first half of the year. Our target is to grow by 20 per cent by 2020.”

The Bureau recently launched various promotions in India with a major one being the Mumbai Metro branding. In 2020, Taiwan is looking to partner with OTAs and also promote the destination digitally.

“We have an office in Mumbai and we did a lot of promotions here. We have also signed a new PR agency dedicated to look at the incentive groups. For the first time, we branded Metros and this helped us in increasing awareness about the destination. We will do more such campaign this year. In 2020, we will be more focused on airline partnership and internet marketing. We will partner with OTAs, conduct webinars and social media promotions, etc. Currently we have only non-stop service from Delhi with two to three flights a week. This is not sufficient as India is so big with a lot of cities. We have partnership with Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airline to use their air services and also one can travel to twin cities,” he added.

Taiwan is looking to partner with MakeMyTrip and other OTAs to promote the destination. The Bureau will also strengthen its partnership with Singapore Airlines, as connectivity between India and Taiwan is a challenge.

Explaining the current scenario, Lin said, “Visitor from Hong Kong to Taiwan is decreasing. Our international visitor has increased, but for India market a lot of them fly with Cathay Pacific and fly to Hong Kong and then Taiwan. From Jan to Aug, we did only 5.5 per cent growth. We are now also focusing a lot on our partnership with Singapore Airlines to boost traffic. We are more focused on family and incentive and we are now working closely with OTAs to tap the FIT segment. We are looking to partner with MakeMyTrip and other OTAs. This year we are focused on cruise, honeymooner, Bleisure, women tours.”

In 2018, Taiwan welcomed over 11 million travelers from across the globe. The top markets are China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and USA.

Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, Cotai Central and The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central, both part of the Marriott International group, have tapped the India market for over the last couple of years. The properties have now witnessed a growth of around 50 per cent in the MICE movements from India. Incentive has emerged as a major segment for the properties.

Speaking about the growth, Daniella Tonetto, General Manager of Sales & Marketing, said, “We have seen a significant increase of around 50 per cent in MICE from India market. Last year, we have received large MICE movements from India. The future enquiries also are very strong. We have introduced value packages with ferry tickets and dining options to further boost this market. We have seen incentive groups coming from the IT, automobile, consumer and banking sectors.”

Both properties together offer 4,400 keys and have been doing an occupancy rate of over 90 per cent round the year. “We get a fairly good amount of share of Indian travellers in Macao. We are a well known brand globally and when it comes to conference and MICE, we have established ourselves as top properties. We have a very different business model for both St. Regis and Sheraton Macao, both are very different in nature and we have been successful in maintaining the essence of both the brands. We do have well aware travellers asking for St. Regis. We have been delivering consistent service standards. Both the properties do well above 90 per cent occupancy throughout the year,” Saurabh Bakshi, General Manager of Operations, revealed.  

After making a mark on the Indian MICE and incentive markets, both properties are now looking to tap the Indian weddings aggressively. These properties boasts of its special team of Indian chefs who can cater to any region in India.

 “Wedding is a very special segment for both the properties. The major advantage to tap Indian weddings is that travellers doesn’t not require visa and also a big advantage is the new bridge which has made the connectivity easier than ever.  Conference, incentive, and weddings is a big business for us from India. We offer excellent infrastructure with a combined banqueting space of over 150,000 sqm. Our hotels are tailor made for business travellers and we provide excellent flexibility. We can cater anywhere from 10 to 3000 people. Also we have a team of Indian chefs who can cater to various regional cuisines from India,” Bakshi added.

This year Macao Special Administrative Region celebrates its 20th anniversary and the destination has already announced a line-up of events for the celebration. The properties will also be a part of the celebration and will offer various activities and shopping opportunities.

“This year Macao celebrates its 20th anniversary and we have big celebrations all around the destination. We will also have a grand celebration with a lot of offers on shopping, kid’s activities, etc and this will continue till the Chinese New Year,” Tonetto added. 

Goa, a popular destination amongst both international and domestic travelers, has witnessed a modest growth in 2018. The destination welcomed 8.01 million tourists (0.93 mn overseas) in 2018 as compared to 7.78 million tourists (0.89 mn overseas) in 2017. The destination is eyeing to receive one million overseas tourists this year. Goa recently organized the third edition of Goa International Travel Mart in order to further develop the tourism sector of the state. During the three days of the show, the stakeholders of the tourism industry in Goa discussed the future roadmap of the sector, infrastructure and various new avenues to be established in the coming years.

Speaking about the plans to develop the tourism in Goa, Pramod Sawant, Chief Minister, Government of Goa said, As a state, we are extremely focused to develop our tourism segment as it is a major part of our GDP. With social harmony and cultural diversity, Goa has a lot of experiences to offer for travelers from across the globe. In 2022, we are coming up with a new airport in Mopa which will further boost connectivity to the state. We are also very well connected by road and rail to all the major cities of India. When it comes to cruise tourism, we welcomed around 45,000 cruise travelers in 2018. One of the key challenges earlier was the local transportation, now we have solved this issue by using technology and launching the Goa Miles app. We are coming up with a new convention centre in Dona Paula. The convention centre will have a capacity of around 5,000 pax and the work has already begun.”

The state is now also focusing to improve its safety and security by sensitizing the authorities. Also, Goa is organizing cleanliness drives to clean the popular beaches and also the heritage structures. “Our Government’s main priority is safety, security and happiness. We have already tightened the safety and security in the state and want to further boost the guest satisfaction. We have also sensitized the police force and have tourist police across the state; we have also deployed adequate lifeguards for the protection of travelers. To further maintain the cleanliness, we are doing scientific beach cleaning and are also striving to preserve our heritage,” the Chief Minister informed.

While these are very positive steps, the recent closure of the Thomas Cook UK has majorly impacted the tourism industry in Goa. Over the years, Goa was thronged by foreign tourist and Thomas Cook UK was one of the companies with scheduled charters used to get a lot of traffic to the coastal state. Now, the state is looking at other alternatives.

Speaking about the emerging scenario, Savio Mesias, President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) said, “For the Indian travel and tourism industry, the last five years was not very exciting, but not bad as well. Government has addressed a lot of challenges and bottlenecks including GST, Visa fees, e-visa, which is good for the industry. In Goa, we have been impacted by the closure of Thomas Cook UK, as UK was one of our major markets. With the help of the Government, we have ensured that now TUI Charter aircrafts will get permission for landing. With 24 aircrafts flying 7200 travellers, TUI will fill the void of Thomas Cook for us. We have focused on promoting our culture and heritage which has a very limited appeal. We need to create and develop more products to attract more travelers to the state.”

To further enhance its bouquet of offerings, Goa is now looking to aggressively tap Health and Wellness segment. The state has already started promoting Goa beyond its beaches.

J Ashok Kumar, Secretary-Tourism, Government of Goa said, “In terms of offerings we have a lot beyond mere sun, sand and beaches in Goa. In the last few years, we have diversified our products. We have been recently awarded as the best state for adventure tourism by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. We are now very keen to promote our hinterlands, health and wellness, and culture and heritage tourism.”

Club Med, one of the pioneers of the Premium All-Inclusive holiday concept has witnessed steady growth from India market. The group has seen a five to seven per cent growth from India and is expecting a positive year.

Speaking about the growth from India market Manoj Upadhyay, Business Development Manager- India, Club Med said, “Looking into the market perspective and the changes that have been happening in the travel industry, for the high value products, we have not seen a significant growth. We have managed a steady growth in the last couple of years from the India market. We saw a bit of spur in the early 2019, we hope to see further growth this year. We saw a trend of late bookings happening this year due to the elections. We hope to see a positive trend in the coming six months from the India market. There has been a five to seven per cent growth from India last year.”

The concept of all inclusive holidays was earlier not popular in the India market. The group has seen some success in spreading the awareness about the concept with various strategies.

Upadhyay added, “India market has now started understanding the concept of all inclusive travel. It depends from destination to destination; in certain destinations people are not using the all inclusive concept. In such market we have a different strategy to promote shorter stay with Club Med. For example, if some travellers are going for a six night itinerary to Bali, let them explore the culture and heritage in the destination and then come and stay for two nights with Club Med and experience the product. Our purpose of pushing this product in Indian market is as an experiential product, where a traveller can see multicultural and hassle-free holiday. Also, travellers can seek value for money with our product.”

Club Med has over 80 resorts around the globe. All the resorts are divided into Golf resorts, Beach resorts and Ski resorts. The destination is now promoting the ski resorts in India market.  

Speaking about the segment Upadhyay said, “We are also focusing on promoting skiing holidays in India. Club Med as a brand are pioneers when it comes to the skiing holiday segment. It is a very new concept for Indians. As of now we have very little numbers from India, but from an organisational perspective it is our strategy to promote this segment in India market. We will come out with regular e-flyers during the winter season to push various packages. As of now we are promoting our products in Metro cities and also highly potential tier II cities. In the next phase we will be going to smaller cities.”

The group is also set to open a new resort in Seychelles in 2020. The group is now focusing in attracting repeat clientele to other properties in its portfolio.

He further added, “When travellers start going to the other destinations than the traditional ones we will see further growth. We promote our properties in other destinations to our existing customers. Once a traveller has experienced our product, we try to promote other destinations where we have our property. We are coming up with a new resort in Seychelles in 2020. Indian Ocean will be a very big strategy for us as a brand. Coming years will be good for us.”

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) along with Government of Singapore and Wildlife Reserve Singapore (WRS) are working on a five year master plan to convert ‘Mandai’ into a nature park. Mandai is located in the North Region of Singapore which is the access point of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. WRS will also open a Rainforest Park which will be the latest attraction.

Detailing about the master plan Isabel Cheng, Chief Marketing Officer, Wildlife Reserve Singapore, “We have a five year master plan to rejuvenate all the parks. In collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board and Government of Singapore we will convert ‘Mandai’ into a nature park. The existing Bird Park will operate for two years, and then we will open a new Bird Park in Mandai and close the old one. We are also come up with a Rainforest Park and Rainforest Park South which will be a new attraction. It will be a very unique attraction and one can actually experience a rainforest. There we will recreate a cave as well. We will also open a indoor Nature attraction as well as a eco-accommodation which will be operated by Banyan Tree. The accommodation will be a mix of glamping, tree houses and normal rooms and it will be coupled with programmes. This project will change the entire Singaporean landscape. Construction has already stated and this will be done by 2024. We are now looking to reduce carbon footprints further and be eco-sensitive.”

Currently India is one of the top source markets for Singapore. With the opening of Mandai, the overnights for Indian travellers will increase. Also, Singapore has witnessed a good response for its Passion Made Possible campaign in India market.

“With Mandai opening up, we will be adding one extra day in traveller’s itinerary. Today the average length of stay is six nights, which will increase for the Indian travellers. We launched the Passion Made Possible campaign in 2017. India has been a big market for us and we have been successful in communicating our campaign in this market and we also organised various events to promote all our segments. This campaign is for people to see beyond Singapore and also tap the repeat client market,” GB Srithar, Regional Director, India, Middle East & South Asia, STB, said.

India has been one of the top source markets for WRS over the years. “India is a major source market for us for almost a decade now. All our attractions are very popular amongst the Indian travellers, Night Safari and Bird Park being the favourites. To cater to this market, we have authentic Indian food and also we have commentary in Hindi. We continue to see a steady growth from this market. One of the major trend is we have always seen Indians travelling in groups and families which makes it even more important to us. We have now come up with a winter package for the India market,” Cheng informed.

WRS has introduced Rainforest Lumina 2.0, a multimedia interactive night walk. “We have once again introduced Rainforest Lumina Season 2 which will be there till February 9, 2020. Earlier, the zoo used to close at night. We introduced the Rainforest Lumina around the zoo to give a bigger and unique experience. Last year, we welcomed over 200,000 travellers. This year is 2.0 and we will once again come up with the third season. The Rainforest Lumina is a multimedia walk and is also very interactive. It is an excellent package with the night safari. All our four parks are family friendly and the Rainforest Lumina and Night Safari are targeted on the young millennial travellers.”

In a new development, Mumbai will soon get water taxi connections between the Gateway of India and various destinations within the city. The Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) has issued tenders and is looking forward to open a few routes in the coming months.

Speaking about the plan, Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) said, “We are trying to launch water taxi service from Gateway of India to various other parts like, Kanhoji Angre Island, Karanja, JNPT, New Airport in Navi Mumbai, Nerul, Vashi, and Belapur. The plan has been prepared; we have invited tenders for people to start water taxis. If we get good water taxis which does not need much depth, these taxis can go up to Thane. Some of the water taxis will start in 3-4 months.”

Acknowledging Mumbai as one of the major cruise hubs in the country, MbPT has taken several steps to further attract cruiselines to the Indian waters and focussed on developing world-class infrastructure to develop cruise tourism.

“Around three years ago, a high level committee was setup by Govt of India, consisting of Secretary of Shipping and Tourism ministries. A Task Force was setup to prepare a roadmap to develop the cruise sector in the country. The committee through IPA engaged a consultant called Bermello Ajamil & Partners. They gave a roadmap which mentioned that we need to upgrade infrastructure. Mumbai will be the centre to all the cruise development. Ports namely Kochi, New Mangalore, Goa and Chennai joined Mumbai and we took a number of decisions such as infrastructure upgradation. We need to take a lot of measures to change behaviour of our regulatory department. New SOPs has been developed for immigration, customs, ports, health department, so that there is ease of business. It was also mentioned that the port cost was very high, so we decided to subsidise the cost. Mumbai almost decreased the costs to half and some ports decreased it one third.”

The cruising industry had earlier also raised issues of high taxation by Indian ports. MbPT has reduced its taxes along with various other subsidies. In 2019-20, Mumbai port is set to welcome 206 ship callings, which has been a significant growth.

Speaking about the new terminal and ship callings Bhatia said, “Mumbai ports removed ousting charges and berth reservation. We upgraded our existing cruise terminal and now we are going for a huge cruise terminal building which will get completed by June. We have also come out with a tender on PPP for operator of the terminal on lines of the airports. We also are doing some action of dredging side to attract more cruises. We have interacted with Costa Cruise who have started home porting and has been successful. We also took steps to reduce other taxes. Even Jalesh started home porting, this year NCL is set to homeport. In 2017-18, we got around 44 ships calling in Mumbai and in 2018-19, we got around 106 ships. In 2019-20, around 206 have been lined up, which is a quantum jump in terms of callings.”

Also Mumbai Port is soon set to develop a new Marina for Yachts. An Italian consulting firm has been appointed for developing the Marina. “A new Marina is set to come, we have engaged an Italian consulting company for the Marina model. In next two months we will be introducing a tender under PPP for the Marina and to handle 300 yachts under the Marina,” Bhatia added.

My Value Travel (MVT), a B2B travel company, recently organised its first MVT Mega Awards 2019 onboard Jalesh Cruises. The two night sailing witnessed close to 200 participants including 110 top performing travel agents from 40 cities in India. The event also had a delegation of 14 hotels, two activity company, and one theme park from Mauritius and seven hotels from Maldives.

Speaking about the event, Deepak Agarwal, Managing Director, My Value Travel said, “We were looking to do an out-of-box event worthwhile for our stakeholders. We have travel agents, hotels, and media here for the first MVT Mega Awards. We decided to host a networking event and awards on Jalesh Cruise as it would be an industry first event. Our partners from Mauritius and Maldives are extremely happy and positive about the event. We have selected 110 top performing agent partners from 40 cities in India. We have a total of 14 hotels from Mauritius and seven from Maldives and 2 activities and 1 theme park from Mauritius. This event has now set a benchmark in the industry. We will surely do a much larger and better event next year for all our partners.”

The group which pre-dominantly focused on Mauritius for around 20 years has witnessed significant success with 70 agents in 2009 to 7000 in 2019. The company has further added Maldives and Bali to its portfolio which is still at a nascent stage.

Explaining the rationale of organising the award, Agarwal said that a lot of people know our brand and not the team as we have been a faceless company all these while. “We have been in the market for around 20 years with majorly promoting Mauritius. With the cut throat competition in B2B market, there was never a budget for us in terms of marketing. We have grown from 70 agents in 2009 to 7248 agents in 2019 across India. This journey has happened without a single sales person anywhere in the country. In 2018, we decided to grow by adding Maldives and Bali. We will now look to go beyond these 7000 agents,” he explained.

The group is now looking to expand its team across India to further add more agents. Also, MVT is now looking to further add experiential destinations to its portfolio. “Our online package booking system is one-of-its-kind. We are not looking to be physically present with offices in any city in India. We will hire people in all major cities and will also look to add more destinations. We are now looking at experiential destinations. Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa will be our next three destinations. Our online system has the capability of doing 10 city customised package at one click. Our agents can book these through our dynamic website,” he informed.

The year 2019 has been a sluggish year for the tourism industry. The elections and the slowdown in the economy have impacted travel and tourism industry. However, MVT has witnessed steady growth without any major dip in the first half of the year.

“From the industry perspective, the year has been very bad due to the slowdown in the economy. For us, we currently have three destinations in our portfolio; Mauritius has been the mainstay for us in the last 20 years. We added Maldives in April 2018 and Bali in March 2019. For Mauritius, we have seen a steady growth in 2019 similar to previous year. For Maldives, the momentum has picked up and we are growing faster. Most of the properties see us as the number one partner in India already. For Bali, which has just started we are on a cruise mode now,” he said.

Kamat Group of Hotels, is looking on expanding its portfolio in India. The group currently operates hotels under its brand ‘The Orchid’ in Mumbai and Pune, ‘Fort JadhavGadh’ in Pune, Lotus Resorts in Konark, Goa and Murud-Harnai, and Mahodadhi Palace in Puri.

Speaking about the expansion plans, Vishal Kamat, CEO, Kamat Group of Hotels said, “Soon, we will have an Orchid Hotel in Bhubaneswar and also various other locations. We are in talks with a few people. We are looking at steady expansion. We don’t have a pipeline of 100’s of hotels, but we will majorly look at guest satisfaction first. A lot of hotels are interested in tying up with us. We are more bullish on lease; we are also interested in management. Today, there are a lot of players in the management space. We don’t look at operating a very small property; it becomes a challenge for us. We have a lot of backend automation and systems which are not affordable under a certain scale. Also, we are further looking at resorts under the Lotus brand. This brand can comfortably be developed in the 40 room property in the upper mid market segment. We want to develop these resorts near water bodies like river, lake, beach, etc.” The Group is looking at taking over existing hotels in Delhi, Maharashtra and Odisha.

The group has witnessed a good growth in 2018 and is looking ahead with a positive approach. The start of the year was a bit turbulent for the hospitality industry. “The initial start of 2019 was not so good for the hospitality industry due to the elections and the Jet Airways crisis. Tourism and business suffered not only locally but globally. First quarter was affected. The previous year was good and the year forward looks very positive. This was just a temporary phase. We as a group adapted to the changing climate and we find ourselves in a very good position,” Kamat added.

The group operates the first-of-its-kind fort property in Maharashtra named, ‘Fort JadhavGadh’. Today, a lot of states are looking to offer subsidies and incentives to develop heritage properties in those destinations. Speaking about further plans into the heritage segment he said, “In normal hotels we are giving hospitality, in Heritage hotels we are delivering an experience. In business hotel we cater warm convenience, whereas there we have to give memories. So the functioning of both segments is extremely different. Our take on heritage is very limited; it is a very difficult, high capex, personalized kind of product. We are neither bullish on it nor pessimistic on it. If we get a right opportunity and see profitability, we would like to do it. Fort JadhavGadh is a fantastic location and has become a destination on its own. It took a lot of effort to reach this level. Moreover we wanted to showcase our Marathi culture, as most of the heritage is Rajasthani culture. Maharashtra has the maximum number of forts, yet there is no fort property except Rajasthan.”

Kamat group has been one of the pioneers in promoting sustainable hospitality concept. The group is further focusing to make all properties sustainable and also inspire other hospitality chains. “We were determined to promote sustainability. We created sustainable model and established a path for others. Our tagline ‘Friendly eco friendly’ is not trademarked, we want others to follow. Small initiatives which we have done have made us sustainable and it helps in conserving the environment. In orchid we had a STP even before BMC made it a law. We were always ahead of the time in what the world needs,” he added.

 

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