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Pride over Value

Monday, November 12, 2018, 13:57 Hrs  [IST]

It is truly a proud moment for Tata family and its hospitality arm, Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) that the uncertainties over their truly iconic address on One Mansingh Road in the national capital has been blown over after a pretty long drawn legal battle. Taj has been able to retain the management rights of the property after a closely fought auction process, as was reported, with ITC Hotels. The address has become so iconic over the last four decades not only for the Taj family, but for everyone who touched or tasted the hospitality there that nobody wanted another flag to flutter over the magnificent hospitality edifice of the capital. The Taj group celebrated the occasion in style with a grand party for its well-wishers where their chefs recreated the classics of 1978 from the much-celebrated restaurants. For the antagonists, they didn’t forget to put a message loud and clear – The Right Name on Mansingh – digitally magnified on top of the grand old trophy.

On a critical note, there might be genuine doubts over whether it will make financial sense for the hotel company in the short and long run considering the hefty licence fee of about INR 7.03 crore per month at 32.50% of the gross turnover; only market analysts can tell. As of now, nobody is looking at the price at which the pride has been retained; they are only talking about the value the property offers to the Taj network quotient. For the time being let’s believe the confident words of the CEO of the company who in an interview said that the asset will deliver more money in absolute terms in the coming years, by making structural changes to the business model with a focus on expanding margins. Let’s wish him the best!

And, after all, heritage and icons are not celebrated for their return on investment. Eyebrows are raised about the value that the much-acclaimed Statue of Unity project on the Narmada in Gujarat, which was just thrown open for public by Prime Minister himself, will be delivering to the country. Touted as the tallest statue in the world at 182 meters, it was built at an approximate cost of INR 3,000 crore and completed at a record 3-year time. There are critics who question the rationale behind spending such humungous amount from the exchequer while several heritage monuments in the country are in ruins. This also comes at a time when the government’s own dedicated agency for their upkeep and conservation, ASI, is busy handing over their maintenance contracts to private agencies. From India’s tourism perspective, let’s not find motives behind the massive investment, rather celebrate that the country has got an attraction to sell and celebrate!

P Krishna Kumar
Assistant Editor

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