Atanu Dey On India's Development

Panjim, Goa

It is interesting to learn that Goa tops the list of favorite places not just for your average European tourist but also the Al Qaeda. Israel issued a warning to its citizens.

“In light of terrorist threats by Al Qaeda in India, a concrete threat now exists specifically for the Indian state of Goa, which hosts many tourists, among them Israelis, during late December and over the civil New Year,” the National Security Council Counter Terrorism Headquarters has said.

Now that sort of a warning adds something to one’s travels. After over a decade, I found myself in Goa once again this week. The last time I was there, I spent an amazing week hanging out at the Colva beach. And on another occasion, I spent a luxurious four days at the Taj Resort at Fort Aguada. But this was the first time that I was in Panjim (Panaji, as the locals call it.)

The first impression I got of Goa this time was on the 35 km ride from Dabolim airport to Panjim. The roads were unbelievable. They were beautifully made and did not have potholes. I must have traveled around 200 kms during my stay and found fewer potholes and imperfections than I would find in a half-kilometer stretch of Pune roads. I could not stop being amazed by the quality of not just the roads but also the city streets. They were the kind that I would find in any developed nation. And to top it all, there was no trash on the streets. All that gave me a strange feeling when I heard the locals talking in Hindi or Marathi. I felt as if I were outside India and it was disorienting to hear them speak an Indian language.

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      Click to Learn English in Goa.

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My stay was a short three days and I didn’t get used to the good roads and the sparse traffic. Good for me as I have to live in Pune with its potholed roads and incredibly dense traffic.

I stayed at a place called Panjim Inn. The website for the small tourist hotel was inviting. But I would not recommend the place. It was a huge disappointment. On top of that, the management has attitude. I suppose there is sufficient demand that they can afford to have an attitude. This I suppose Goa shares with the rest of India. India is incredibly expensive when it comes to hotels. For the price I paid in Goa, I would have had a hugely better hotel in the Silicon Valley. Some friends of mine who recently visited India cut short their visit because they were shocked at the hotel rates in Mumbai.

High prices can be due to high demand or low supply or both. In the case of Indian hotels, it is definitely due to low supply. I read somewhere that the city of Shanghai has more hotel rooms than India has. No wonder Indian hotels are miserable.

So I suppose there is an opportunity for a chain of low priced hotels. For that you need to bring down the costs. That is not trivial because hotel costs are dictated partly by the cost of real estate. In Mumbai, real estate costs account for a major part of the total costs. I think the answer lies in creating large hotels on the outskirts of the large cities and bussing the people in every day in the morning into the city in luxury coaches. Can’t think of anything else. Ideas?

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  • http://sloganmurugan.blogspot.com SloganMurugan

    Most of the new hotels in Bangalore are coming up in the outskirts. But then even work happens in the outskirts.

  • jala

    I read that Ratan Tata started the IndiOne Hotels with the same idea.

    I was always wondering how about Inn’s.
    The Japanese way.
    Might be we need to adopt that, .. innovation.

  • Sandeep

    Atanu, I am all set for Goa for New Year’s weekend – and I am unlikely to back out. Although, I will be warier than normal and will look with greater suspicion at random ravers offering me ‘magic pills’ to consume.

    The Hotel industry in India is certainly poised to take off as more and more visitors arrive to the country for business and pleasure. Hotel rates in India are shockingly high, and that is mostly because the level of service at the top Indian hotels is comparable to 5-star hotels anywhere in the world, and that is more important to the rather price-inelastic business tourist.

    If India is to transform itself into a a tourist destination, the country needs to come up with 1) cheaper hotels 2) variable rates and 3) centralized hotel booking. The tourism business is very susceptible to seasonal variations in demand and they should find more intelligent ways to balance demand by dynamic pricing and advertising this information. I see a great potential for a business like Mobissimo or Orbitz in India.

  • dodo

    Spot On!!

    Your observations about goa is apt.The roads and cleanliness their amazed us when we visited there.

    And about the hotel price in India… they are crazy to say the least. My office is in Andheri (East), a suburb in Mumbai and in a most dusty and chocked area. The last word that will come into your mind is ” beauty”. But the hotel(a three to four star one) just in front of my office charges Rs. 12,000 per night (US $ 260) for a SINGLE ROOM! o’course they are having some packages for corporates but it is never less than $220!

    I am eagerly waiting for the day when the hotel prices will crash.

  • http://www.travelmartindia.com lovely

    yes, the prices are crazy! They need to have more inns, hostels probably, more innovations-like probably how they have done in singapore and thailand nd malaysia…just a thought!