Shimla: Tatas offer to buy out state-owned Palace Hotel in Chail
The Tata group has evinced interest in investing in the state's hospitality sector and is said to have made an offer to purchase the Palace Hotel in Chail, which is owned by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation.punjab Updated: Jun 19, 2015 20:06 IST
The Tata group has evinced interest in investing in the state's hospitality sector and is said to have made an offer to purchase the Palace Hotel in Chail, which is owned by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation.
However, the Himachal tourism department is reportedly reluctant to sell the prime property as it has become profitable.
Spread over 75 acres of land, the hotel was built in 1891 as a palace for the local maharaja and was later purchased by Himachal Tourism in 1972 and converted into a heritage hotel. It has 48 rooms including five log huts.
At their meeting with government functionaries held in the first week of June, Tata group officials expressed interest in investing in five or seven star hotels in the state. A government official confirmed the Tatas had agreed to send a delegation of company officials to the state for the next round of talks on possible investments in the hospitality sector.
Industries director Rajinder Thakur was later quoted as saying the meeting was "quite positive". "They (Tatas) have expressed interest in making major investments in many sectors in the state, including the hospitality industry," he said.
According to sources, the group has begun scouting sites in popular tourist hotspots in the state for setting up hotels and has even begun discussions on the land required with the government.
They added Tata officials had, however, expressed reservations about road, rail and air connectivity in the state as virtually all scenic spots were far from railroads and airports. However, the government assured them efforts to improve services to all the three airports - Gaggal in Kangra, Bhuntar in Kullu and Jubbarhatti in Shimla - were being made in earnest, besides emphasizing there were several helipads across the state.
Last year Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh along with industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri and other top government officials had organised investor meets in Mumbai, Bangalore and Ahmadabad, during which a high ranking Tata official, Madhu Kanan, who is member of the executive council of Tata Sons, had expressed interest in investing in Himachal.
The sources said the Tata group wants to tap high-end tourism in Himachal, which received more than 390,000 foreign visitors and over 10.63 million domestic tourists in 2014. Tourism accounts for about 7.5% of the state GDP.
The Tatas' Taj Group operates 108 hotels across India and 17 hotels in Britain, the United States, Africa, Maldives, Malaysia, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, employing over 13,000 people.