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Classification norms for timeshare sector soon

Ambar Singh Roy

Kolkata , June 23

THE Union Government is expected to finalise classification norms for the timeshare industry within the next few months, according to Mr B.S. Rathor, Chairman & Principal Advisor of the All-India Resort Development Association (AIRDA).

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Rathor said the timeshare industry has been excluded from the classification of hotels by the Government. Following representations from the industry, the Government is currently working on classification norms for the sector. He said fixation of classification norms would not only help set standards but also effectively regulate the industry, which has been clocking an annual average growth of around 20 per cent over the last three years.

"Globally, the timeshare industry, or the vacation-ownership segment of tourism, as it is now called, has been registering the fastest niche growth in the tourism sector. As such, there is a need to fix classification norms to not only ensure sustained growth but also to regulate the industry," he said, adding that proposals in this regard have been forwarded to the Centre after discussions with various stakeholders in the tourism sector.

Mr Rathor said the timeshare segment focuses on all aspects of tourists: inbound, outbound and domestic. In 2003, the number of inbound and outbound tourists in India was estimated at 2.8 million and 10 million, respectively. The number of domestic tourists in 2003 has been pegged at 317 million.

Today in India, there are around 50 resorts with over 50,000 families owing timeshare weeks. Globally, there are 5,400 resorts spread across 100 countries offering 10.7 million timeshare weeks. The industry's global revenues have gone up to $9.4 billion in 2002 from $3.2 billion in 1990. In 2002, the number of global households owing timeshare weeks was pegged at 6.7 million.

AIRDA at present has 16 members who, among themselves, own 32 resorts located across the country. The average cost of timeshare ownership works out to Rs 1 lakh for a 30-year period. In lieu of that, timeshare owners can enjoy a week's stay every year in any one of the affiliated resorts. The revenue generated by the industry in India is stated to be Rs 200 crore annually.

On its part, AIRDA has put in place its own regulatory framework for its members. "For timeshare owners, there are no hidden costs as far as our member-resorts are concerned. We ensure that customers get all products and services as per the contractual agreement. All our members offer a cooling period to their customers. If a particular customer changes his mind on taking up a timeshare ownership within a stated timeframe, his money is refunded to him after deduction of a nominal processing fee," he said.

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