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1865Winter Olympics in HImachal ?

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  • Tenzin
    Nov 18, 2005
      Hi all,

      Winter Olympics in HImachal ?
        A wishful thought indeed, but if things are as bright as they seem. Who knows?
      I just laid my hands on this article and i just couldnt help but share it. Since this wasn`t available online. I typed it from the magazine. I am so glad that things are shaping up fast. This would indeed be a milestone in Himachal emerging as the forerunner in eco-tourism and offering quality health services. I just hope that this project go through unscatched with common understanding and political wills from all political parties.

      regards,
      Tenzin

      Business India,
      Nov 7-20, 2005
      Ford on a Ski Romp.
       
      Alfred Ford, great grandson of the legendary Henry Ford, is bringing to Himachal Pradesh the kind of investment that could make this small mountainous state a hub of eco tourism and a must try destination for any avid skier. In the last week of October, Ford flew to shimla to present the project report of his Himachal Ski Village (HSV) to stat chief minister Virbhadra Singh. With a MoU and a go ahead from the state cabinet now in his bad, Ford hopes to have the technical clearances by the end of the year and targeting a 2009 opening.
      HSV has been conceptualized as a world-class ski-facility in the Dhauladhar ranges of the Himalayas, above the Kullu-Manali area that Indian tourists throng in summer. The chosen site is already popular with the international heli-skiing set. It has the finest of the skiing slopes and snow that will satisfy both beginners and international skiers. The first phase of the project involves an investment of $135 million. This means construction of 250 hotel rooms, including separate villas, installation of ski facilities and setting up of the ropeway gondolas that will bring the tourists to the ski village. The concept design of the 50-acre village borrows from the traditional Himalayan style architecture and has been done by Jack Zehren & Associates from Vail in Colorado. There will be handicrafts market, called Kullu Haat, which will offer local villagers and craftsmen employment opportunities. A theatre complex will host Indian and international music concerts and other performing arts. Talks are also on with Apollo group to build a hospital area in the area.
      Feel of the himalays
      While the state government has promised to address the issue of infrastructure, like the ramshackle Kullu airport, which can only take 25 seater aircraft, Ford doesn’t not want to foist a five star, glitzy ambience on the area. “The people who visit should get a feel of the Himalayas as they are,” he says.
      According to HSV`s financial officer Glen Trotman, the investment commitment of $135 million could grow into $500 million in the later phases. “We want to see what the market is like before going into other phases”, he points out. Ford is aiming at tourists from India as well as the high spending segment from Europe, the Us and Australia, to keep the cash reister ticking. Indeed, Ford and his childhood friend, John Sims, who is managing director, repeatedly stress on their commitment to India, which has already found expression in an industrial project as well as a Vedic planetarium in West Bengal. A prominent Indian that HSV has on its board of directors is banker Nasser Munjee.
      The HP government on the face of it, appears fired by the project. To begin with, there will be royalty and lease payments to the state government and the village communities. The state will also benefit from the 10 percent luxury tax that the project will garner from its clients. It will also get additional revenue from the sale of power. On its own, HSV will provide direct employment to 1000 persons and indirect employment to another 3000 persons. Asked for a ballpark figure, trotman told Business India that the financial windfall accruing to HP could be anything up to 2 percent of the total cost of the project. In any case the luxury tax and the royalty paid to the state will be more than double the current annual tourism revenues (stagnant at 40 crore). Ford, on his part, talks of a “ripple effect” the project will have in the area on the hospitality and tertiary sectors.
      There is another attractive proposition that the project has thrown up. Once it gets going, India will have another major tourism and winter sport infrastructure. It may get a chance to bid to the winter Olympics. And Himachal Pradesh, always short on investment, will be showcased worldwide as an up market, safe and eco-friendly destination.
      Ford, a director of the Ford Motor Company and an active investor in the equities market, property development and software ventures, is aware of the risks involved in the project, particularly after the recent earthquake that cut such a destructive swathe across the Himalayas. But, as he puts it, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
       


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