May open properties in Sichuan and Xian
The Taj group of hotels, at present involved in four projects in China, may become the first Indian hotel company to establish its presence in Tibet.
The Indian Hotels Company Limited, which manages the Taj brand, is considering expanding its presence to Tibet, Sichuan and the ancient capital of Xian, according to the group’s strategic adviser in Beijing. The group is now in the process of opening four properties in China: one property at Beijing’s historic Temple of Heaven, two in Yunnan and a luxury resort in the southern island province of Hainan.
“Yunnan and Beijing are two geographically unique locations,” said Dana Schuppert, Senior Strategic Advisor and Envoy for Special Projects for the Tata Group.
“Yunnan is the garden of China, and Beijing the political centre. The specific locations the Taj has will give a very good foundation to go ahead to Sichuan, to Tibet, and to Xian, where history let China and India play an important role, jointly.”
Opening properties in Tibet, Sichuan, and the ancient capital of Xian where Buddhism once flourished will be part of a larger “vision”, Dr. Schuppert said, of highlighting India’s historical and cultural links with China.
“We are following a strategy that is very clear,” Dr. Schuppert said. “Either where there is geographical proximity to India, such as Yunnan, which is on Kolkata’s doorstep, or in the capital, Beijing.”
Dr. Schuppert, who has also served as an adviser to provincial governments in China, said the Beijing property was especially “unique” located adjacent to the Temple of Heaven, a 15th Century world heritage site.
Last month, the Indian Hotels Company signed a memorandum of co-operation for a joint venture with Yunnan Tourism to develop, operate and manage two hotels in the Expo Garden in the provincial capital, Kunming. The company is also in the process of opening a premium luxury resort in Hainan island, a fast-growing tourist destination.
Abhijit Mukerji, Executive Director, Hotel Operations, said in an interview during a visit to Beijing in December that “in two to three years’ time horizon” the group would “be able to see some fructification of our projects in China,” which were “more or less parallel”.
Asked about how the company viewed its future plans for the China market, he said: “We all know that China is going to be the largest
economy as we move ahead. The importance of China can never be second to anything else, and that applies to all businesses and industries. It has to be the most important market as the second largest economy.”
Mr. Mukerji, who was here to meet with the groups’ partners, did not comment on the status of plans to expand its presence in new locations such as Sichuan and Tibet. “One step at a time”, he said.