India needs seamless air connectivity, not fancy airports: MallyaNovember 17th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) The country needs safe runways and good navigation systems rather than fancy airports to spruce up its aviation connectivity, said Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya here Monday.”The government is developing airports across the country, but we just need simple, safe runways with good navigation functions,” Mallya said in an address at the Indian Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum.
Mallya, whose empire spreads from liquor to aviation, said airports at all the four metros and 35 cities across the country were being modernised, but argued that what was also needed was connecting major tourist destinations.
Citing an example, Mallya said Hampi, a major tourism destination in Karnataka was full of archaeological monuments that attracted a large number of visitors from both within and outside the country.
“But there is no connectivity to this place by air. You have to travel by road for over 10 hours from Bangalore to reach Hampi, which foreign tourists would not like,” he said.
Mallya also questioned the airport modernisation programme, saying, “We had two new airports coming up in Bangalore and Hyderabad but the old ones were shut down. These airports could have been used for low-cost airline operations.”
Mallya was also critical about Goa’s hospitality sector, saying hotels tariffs here were beyond people’s reach. “It is cheaper to go abroad than to go to Goa,” he said.
Speaking at the same forum, Suhel Seth, the managing partner at brand management firm Counselage India, too, said the government’s tourism policy needed to be revisited. “We are trying to win over foreign tourists by organising road shows and other events abroad but have done nothing to promote tourism within India,” he said.
“People in India still prefer to go abroad and spend time rather than going to a tourist destination in India. This is a major flaw in the government’s Incredible India campaign,” Seth argued.
“We haven’t been able to come out with good budget class hotels, which could have given a push to our tourism. North-East states are ignored despite that it has a lot of potential for tourism.”
Dwelling on the problems faced by the hospitality sector, Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee said an upcoming luxury hotel has to get a formal clearance from 45 government agencies.