Thursday, June 9, 2011

Usha Breco bags Girnar ropeway project.


Lt Col (Retd) Rakesh Sharma
Usha Breco Limited (UBL), a part of the Usha Martin Group Company, has bagged the contract for the Girnar Ropeway project in Gujarat and is expected to provide value addition to the region in tourism. In an exclusive conversation with Express TravelWorld Lt Col (Retd) Rakesh Sharma, Executive Director of the company, informed that this is the company’s sixth project and would be a critical one as it is expected to change the dynamics of tourism in the region.
“Girnar Hills have its pilgrimage value not only in-and-around Junagadh in Gujarat but also is one of the most visited pilgrimage locations in India. It is considered Vaishno Devi of Gujarat. Apart from that, it lies in the vicinity of Gir forest. Hence, the ropeway will play a major role in giving an impetus to the region,” Sharma said. The company is already operating a few ropeway projects – Udan Khatola – on BOT basis, Maa Mansadevi and Chandidevi ropeways in Haridwar, Malampuzha in Kerala, Maa Ambadevi in Ambaji and Maa Kalidevi in Pawagarh.
Though initial focus of the company has been around religious destinations, but the Kerala project is a leisure project.
The ropeway business is capital intensive and therefore, UBL wants to increase its repertoire of options in the leisure segment too for which it is sounding out its ideas to various state governments. Though the breakeven period has reduced to three - four from the earlier seven - eight years a few years ago. Sharma explained, “With domestic and religious tourism going up, we want to promote this fact that ropeway is a strong tourism product, which not only develops a region but allows more tourists to come and experience a place and indirectly address the issue of
According to Ashish Kumar, management advisor – tourism for Usha Breco – the company is focused on promoting the concept of ropeways. “The Girnar Ropeway in Gujarat will be, for example, state-of-the-art, innovative yet heritage-friendly concept. The place is not only visited by pilgrims from India, even tourists from various countries fly down to this locale for wildlife adventure, mountain climbing and temple architecture. We are awaiting the environmental clearance following which the work will begin,” he added.
Further, UBL would look at non-pilgrimage and adventure projects for commissioning ropeways. It has till now successfully commissioned 16 industrial and 10 passenger ropeways and carried more than 7.7 crore passengers to date, clocking an average annual passenger traffic in excess of 45 lakh. “We want to integrate the entire value chain for pilgrims and create the necessary infrastructure to fulfill tourists' religious aspirations,” Sharma said.
Additionally, the company formed a travel division, Usha Indian Destinations, a few years ago to arrange tour packages starting with places where they were operating ropeways. “Tourism was a natural progressive step after ropeway operations, which ensured promotion of tourist inflow to such destinations. Till now, for obvious reasons, the packages revolved around religious destinations like Chardham Yatra, 84 Kos Yatra, Dwarka Somnath Yatra, Amarnath Yatra and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Now, we would be looking at some new religious circuits,” informed Kumar.
The company has mapped new circuits offering 15 circuits based on Vaishnodevi Yatra, Banke Bihari Darshan, Hemkund Sahab Yatra, Mahastra Jyotirling Darshan, Ashtavinayak Yatra and Tirupati Darshan. UBL has tied up with, Travelboutique online and Interserve for B2B alliances;, and Yatra Online for B2C Alliances and with Indigo Airlines and IRCTC in the transportation segment.

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