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Take a holiday now, pay later

Calcutta, June 15: If you thought you had not saved enough for summering in the blue lagoons in Maldives, you could pay for it over six months, thanks to a marriage of convenience between Taj Hotels and HSBC.

What makes the deal really attractive is the fact that payment in instalments would not carry any interest as would have happened if you had paid for your holiday with your credit card.

Airlines are known to offer special holiday packages that include accommodation and free excursion.

In India, Taj has, in the past, tied up with domestic carriers. But this is possibly the first time a bank has tied up with a hotel company.

Observers call this “a marriage of convenience”. While fund-flush banks like HSBC are looking to deploy piles of cash, hotel companies like Taj are trying to turn the corner this summer.

Under the arrangement, you could stay at any Taj property in India or abroad and pay for it in six monthly instalments. You could even get special discount in some properties.

For instance, a three-night stay at Taj Holiday Village, Goa would cost Rs 13,950 for a couple. It includes airport transfers, sightseeing and a host of freebies and discounts on facilities.

In the recent past, a couple of airlines from the Far East had offered dream deals that combined return airfare and accommodation at bargain basement prices.

Sources in the tourism industry say these deals were runaway hits, and more airlines from the east are looking to offer similar deals to get over the recession.

Hotels in India have had a tough time for the last few years. It started with the war in Kargil. Even before the industry had recovered from the Indo-Pak war, 9/11 triggered a worldwide recession.

“SARS was probably the last blow, but it did not affect India much anyhow. Tourism is picking up again, and the industry is going to pull out all tricks in its books to regain the lost business,” says an expert.

For banks, it’s quite a similar story. Despite the robust growth in Indian economy, there’s not been any significant growth in credit offtake.

“Everyone in the business is focusing on retail credit, be it in the form of home loans, car finance, or funding stock market investments. The arrangement between HSBC and Taj Hotels is just another variant,” said a senior banker.

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