McDonald's, Taj eye Himachal

Wednesday, 29 December 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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SHIMLA: Indian hotel major Taj group and American fast food chain McDonald's are eyeing Himachal Pradesh.
"The Taj group and McDonald's have expressed their desire to invest in the (state-run) Himachal Pradesh Tourism Corp (HPTDC) properties in Shimla and Chail (50 km from here)," said a top official.

According to him, McDonald's is keen on refurbishing the popular Ashiana restaurant and bar on the Ridge here.

Taj wants to redo the Palace hotel, a luxurious HPTDC property that was once a palace of the Maharaja of Patiala.

Even though both properties are profit generating, Tourism Minister G.S. Bali has often spoken of divesting state equity in both loss and profit making HPTDC properties.

"We feel that Ashiana restaurant can generate up to 20 lakh (2 million) profit if leased out to a private party. This is more than the 400,000 profit it is currently making," Bali said earlier this month.

"To attract more people we are even considering converting Ashiana into a revolving restaurant. We are already communicating with the town and country planning department to discuss the feasibility of the plan as the area falls in the heritage zone," he added.

"The Palace hotel (at Chail) is currently registering an annual profit of 50 lakh (5 million) but it has the potential to generate 1.5 crore (15 million)," Bali maintained.

According to the minister, 106 private companies and 15 from the public sector submitted their proposals at a conclave here a fortnight ago.

The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Conclave, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was meant to attract the private sector to invest in the state.

The minister had said any proposal would be cleared within 100 days.

Ford Motors of the US has shown interest in opening a ski village with an investment of $250 million.

Source: IANS
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