Despite reports that India's hotel sector has fallen on tough times, Richard Solomons, CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group, has a sunnier take.
"Why is everyone so negative? India is one of the 10 markets that will deliver 75 percent of the global hospitality growth," he told Business Standard. "Ultimately, the best correlation for hotel revenue is the growth of gross domestic product."
IHG has poured $30 million into the Indian market in a joint venture with Duet India Hotels, and will not stop at that. IHG's shortest deals are for 20 years. The company already has 19 hotels in India, with 45 more in the pipeline. This is the second-highest pipeline next to China, within Asia.
When choosing any market, it is important to have the right partner and a high level of local expertise, especially in a destination like India. It takes longer to open hotels in India than in any other market, as it is difficult to obtain land and licenses, which slows the pace of growth. Still, Solomons remains optimistic about India's potential for investment.
"India's contribution [to IHG revenues] is very small, until now," Solomons said. "We have been in India since 1965. We have 19 hotels. We took a lot of hotels out. We have learned a lot and we have made a lot of mistakes. We don't want growth for the sake of growth. We want high-quality growth. We have 45 in the pipeline in the next few years and 150 in the next 10-15 years."