The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bug bears big-buck breaks

New Delhi, April 30: It’s all about a bug and mega-buck opportunities that it affords.

At a time when dragon economy China and south-east Asian tigers — Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia — are taking a big hit because of the SARS epidemic, India Inc feels it’s their best chance to bounce back in the marketplace.

“I don’t want to sound inhuman, but the fact is that SARS should be taken as an immense opportunity to make business, prove our worth and capacity. India is already on the radar screen for investors, it is an opportune time for drawing huge investments,” Anand Mahindra, newly-elected president of Confederation of Indian industry told The Telegraph.

Almost confirming Mahindra’s argument was a statement made by Rashmi Verma, additional director general of tourism, “We want our people to target conferences that were slated to happen in east and south-east Asia to see if the organisers are willing to shift their venues to India because of the SARS scare in those regions.”

Airlines, trade fairs, convention venues, hoteliers and tour operators have banded together to form an India Convention Promotion Bureau which will try to do just this: be inhuman and try to snatch a little business from the east Asian dragon’s claws.

Sarabjeet Singh, co-chairman of the ICPB which is being supported by the civil aviation and tourism ministries for obvious reasons, said, “We can use this to leverage our way into the multi-billion dollar convention business and then go on to try rope in customers over a 10-year time span.” If Verma and Singh manage to succeed, it would mean mega bucks for airlines flying into India as well as for the convention centres and hotels.

If the government and airlines went hunting for big game at the expense of the dragon and the tiger cubs, CII and Mahindra also tried to strike a conciliatory note, saying, “India has recorded one of the highest growth rates in the 1990s; only China has witnessed higher GDP and growth rate than India. Given our market size, choice is not India vs China but India and China.”

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