After the success of the outsourcing industry, the business community's interest in India has increased manifold. Within India incomes have been growing. What are the Carlson group's plans in the country?
As of today, the only thing from our basket of products that we do not have in India is the marketing services group. And I am pleased to tell you that we are close to finalising a joint venture for the product under the Carlson Wagonlit group. This company will work in close collaboration with Carlson Wagonlit Travel already here in India. Under market services we provide consumer marketing, loyalty programmes and MICE packages.
With 22 hotels, 5 restaurants, one cruise ship and a travel company here, how much do the Indian operations contribute to the firm?
Total sales revenues from India are about $200 million in all. Since most of our companies here are joint ventures, the figure includes total sales. We have 3,500 employees in India. Our global revenues are $26 billion. The most important thing is that while everyone is talking of entering India now, we are here already and are continuing to grow.
India has become the flavour of the season for the West. There has been a change in the profile of the taveller from the backpacker to the more affluent. Does this affect the company's growth?
The country needs all kind of travellers. You do not want any one sector, you want them all. While the high-end market is important, the midmarket is also important. As the region becomes more and more important and democracy continues to develop, the market will also grow.
What are the group's expansion plans in India and how much investment will you make?
We are getting 14 properties under various brands ready over the next two to three years. One of the biggest launches will be the unveiling of the Regent brand, for which we are finalising the location. Our cruise liner Voyager comes to India once a year. To us the domestic market here is an interesting proposition as is the intraregional traffic.