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Hospitality companies bet high on 'hospitel' projects

In a bid to capture a slice of the estimated US $3 billion medical tourism sector in India by 2012, leading domestic and international hospitality players have evinced interest to set up hotel-cum-hospital projects aptly titled 'hospitel' in key metro and upcoming non-metro cities.

Taking the first step towards this direction is Dubai-based Emaar Properties that plans an estimated 30 hospitels across India within the next 10 years. Throwing light on the potential of medical tourism and his company's interest in it in India, Mohammad Al Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties, said, "As many as 1,50,000 medical tourists visited India last year alone, with the number of arrivals in the country growing by 15 per cent annually. Emaar's expansion into the healthcare business is part of our holistic approach to property development and complements our earlier announced plans for the hotel sector. By providing world-class infrastructure and healthcare services coupled with hospitality, we are confident that medical tourists will not give India a miss."

Following a similar strategy, Middle East real estate major Al Rostamani Group through its subsidiary KM Properties plans to set up 10 hospitel projects in the country in its first phase. Abdul Wahed Hassan Al Rostamani, partner and MD, Al Rostamani Group, said, "We are certainly keen on setting up hotel-cum-hospital project in India, and are considering different sites in the country but have not finalised on any yet. It is part of our long-term plan of investments in India, including the hospitality sector."

Not to be left behind, indigenous ITC and new entrant in the hospitality arena Shristi Group is also coming up with hotel-cum-hospital projects in Mumbai. Speaking on ITC's project, Nakul Anand, divisional chief executive (hotels), ITC, said, "We saw an opportunity in this project owing to growing interest in medical tourism in the country and will look at other such projects if and when the need arises." Though, he added, that it would not necessarily be a new strategy adopted by the hotels division. Similarly, Madhur Aggarwal of Shristi Hotels - a subsidiary of the Shristi Group that is already into super speciality hospitals - confirmed that the group is looking at boutique hotels as its hospital project in Mumbai and will also consider other such projects in the future.



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