‘KTDC is Shifting its Focus to Destination Management’
After serving as the Managing Director of KTDC for nearly two years and three months, Rahul R Pillai IRS has set a model for evolving the company further
In the 2017-18 financial year, the Kerala State Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) recorded a loss of Rs. 28.51 crore. However, in the end of the fifth subsequent financial quarter, which is the first quarter of 2019-20 financial year, the Corporation registered an operational profit of Rs. 69.60 lakh. The man who led KTDC in making a U-turn to the path of financial recovery is none other than Rahul R Pillai IRS, Managing Director, KTDC. At the time of this exclusive interview with Destination Kerala, Rahul was preparing to relinquish his role as the MD of KTDC to take up new official role in October. During the chat he evaluated the achievements of KTDC since he took charge in June 2017.
Besides leading the Corporation in registering profit through a slew of proactive measures, addressing certain core issues, Rahul was able to impart a new vision to it. The outgoing MD identified the resources which could help it steer into new arenas of tourism in the State. Moving away from developing destinations in the State, KTDC is gradually focusing on destination management.
“KTDC is one such arm of the government which puts all its funds and manpower into developing new destinations. Private players will not be very keen on investing in unexplored or new locations since there is a risk in doing so,” Rahul said adding that KTDC can manage destinations. “The process includes waste management, providing easy access, ticketing and traffic management. All these require some agency to monitor,” he added. KTDC made a presentation in this regard before Dr. Thomas Isaac, Finance Minister, who, in turn, announced during the presentation of the last budget that the Corporation would be employed as a destination manager. According to him, the next step in this direction is to identify the destinations with which KTDC can associate and depute a ‘destination manager’ from among the senior level managers of the Corporation.
Another key aim of Rahul was to earn more profit and more acceptability for the products and services being offered by KTDC. Following the Supreme Court directive curbing restaurants serving liquor, KTDC was managing only 12 beer parlours. However, with teamwork he managed to open 41 more beer parlours in the State, generating 75 more jobs. KTDC also rebranded the logo of beer parlours, revamped the interiors for better ambience and introduced new uniform to the staff in a bid to attract more customers.
During his tenure in office, KTDC also witnessed a significant increase in the operational profits of its premium properties spread across Kerala. While the profit of the same was Rs. 3.85 crore in 2016-17, KTDC managed to increase it by 56 per cent in the subsequent financial year by registering a profit of Rs. 6.03 crore.
The KTDC management under Rahul’s leadership decided to renovate the British-era wing of the Mascot Hotel into a heritage block. According to him, the renovation work at Mascot Hotel will commence soon.
Taking cognizance of Ponmudi’s popularity as a favoured destination, KTDC has recently increased the number of cottages at its property, Golden Peak Ponmudi, to 25. Speaking about KTDC’s expansion plan in Ponmudi, Rahul said “if the State Government agrees,” the company hopes to take over a government guesthouse being planned there and convert it into a more aesthetically appealing inventory. Similarly, KTDC was able to open a Motel Aram at Parasala and a restaurant at Neeleshwaram in Kasaragod, he said.
“It is important to manage the financials well. When I joined here, the audit of KTDC had been long pending. In March 2020 audited financials of the company will be updated, which I feel is a systematic improvement,” Rahul said.
Hostess, an exclusive hotel for women guests; corporate membership cards and Ayurbodha, a programme to educate tourists about the traditional Kerala Ayurvedic practices, were some of the other projects executed under Rahul’s leadership.