Wilderness In Thekkady Wins More Cheer To KTDC Than Beer

Thiruvananthapuram, February 27: | Updated: Feb 28 2003, 05:30am hrs
Contrary to Kerala State Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) campaign for the mug, this year it is the Thekkady wilderness that brings more cheer to the Corporation's profit-kitty than its much-campaigned-for beer parlours. A close look at the latest financials (last nine months) of the south's biggest hotel chain reveals as much.

For the 59-property Kerala PSU, its budget hotels are emerging performers posting small profits, where those in the premium category have been weighed down to losses by heavy operating expenditure. Both in premium property and budget hotels, there are no complaints on turnovers, but the profit gallop has been distinctly only in the budget category.

Surprisingly, income from Aranyanivas, its modest lake-side lodge in Thekkady jungle, once actively considered for divestment, has zoomed to an unprecedented Rs 90 lakh in the last nine months. Boating and improved occupancy at Aranyanivas has brought up its revenues by over 30 per cent.

Sabala restaurants and beer parlours, which KTDC chairperson Padmaja Venugopal considers her winning recipes, have suffered knockdown in their individual profits from Rs 68.39 lakh in 2002 December to Rs 66.42 lakh in December 2003.

Quoting the bruise in its profitlines from 1999-2000, Ms Padmaja had last year embarked on a campaign with the government that it was the closure of 23 beer parlours that had cost the state PSU the loss about Rs 3 crore per year. The beer sales had stopped, but the staff kept for the parlours had to be maintained, she had argued. From this year, the Corporation is planning draught beer sales too.

It was in 1998-99 that the Corporation wiped out its accumulated losses of over Rs 9 crore and opened a profit account. From Rs 34.69 crore sales in 1998-99 (operating profits: Rs 1.25 crore), the turnover had fallen marginally to Rs 30.79 crore in 1999-2000 (operating profit: Rs 76 lakh) after the beer parlour decision.

Since the business had still continued to limp with Rs 21.8 crore turnover as on 31 December, 2001 (operating profits: Rs 63.55 lakh), wooing back the beer buyers had been seen a viable option.

KTDC does not boast of any extra marketing campaign for its budget property at Thekkady. "It is just that the tight rein on the expenditure is paying off in Thekkady also," Dr K Elangovan, KTDC managing director told FE. Through a newly-worked out centralised purchasing system, wasteful expenditure has been trimmed that have improved the company's profit outlook, he explained.

Operational profits have grown to Rs 12.9 crore in the nine-months upto December 31, 2002 as against the Rs 2.9 crore posted in the same period in 2001, according to the performance report presented before the meeting of the board of directors of the Corporation on Thursday.

A KTDC release, here, announces the Corporation's plans to post a turnover of Rs 334.8 crore and an operating profit of Rs 27.9 crore on March 31, 2003.