(“In an exclusive interview with Cochin Herald, a well known businessman and Managing Director of Abad Hotels Pvt. Ltd., Riaz Ahamed, told this Correspondent, that the Taxation Policy of the Government hampers Tourism Promotion and that it should be changed”.)
When did you start the business and what prompted you to enter into it ?
Actually, Abad Group started its operations in 1931, as a Family Business. Initially, we have started it as an exporter of dried prawns (chemmeen) to Ceylon and Burma . I have joined it after the completion of my education. Initially, the business was started by my grandfather Usman Mohammed Hashim Sait and was running it along with his brother. I am prompted to enter into it at that time, only becauseof the fact that, I was involved with the activities of the company from my college days itself especially because it is our traditional family business. .At that time the company was running under the name of Ibrahim Mohammed Hashim & Brothers.
What is your role in the Abad Group of business concerns ?
Director of Abad Fisheries (P) Ltd., Chairman of Abad Builders (P) Ltd. and Managing Director of Abad Hotels (P) Ltd.
Are you still running the Marine exporting company ? Do you have any other operation centers outside Cochin ?
We are still active in the field of Marine Exports and the company is now known as Abad Fisheries (P) Ltd., which is still a joint family business. And now, Abad Fisheries, the flagship business has grown to such an extent that it has been counted among the largest exporters of frozen seafood in India. Apart from Kochi, we have operations in Vizhinjam., Aroor, Vypin, Munambam etc.
When did you enter into the Hotel and Tourism industry ? Apart from this sector, are you to any other sector also?
We have diversified into the hospitality industry in 1982, when we started our first hotel namely Abad Hotels and Resorts. Later on, we have also entered into diversified field of the construction industry which is known as Abad Builders (P) Ltd..
How many hotels and resorts are there under the Abad Group now ? Where are they located?
In all, now we have 12 Hotels under the Abad Group located at key places. Out of this five are at Kochi and the remaining are located at Munnar, Thekkady (Periyar), Kumarakam, Alleppy and Kovalam.
What are the major features of Abad Group of Hotels and Resorts ?
One of the distinctive features of Abad Group of Hotels is that, we don’t serve any type of Liquor, including Beer or Wine in any of our Hotels and Resorts. This is a speciality which you cannot see in any other Hotels or Resorts with star facilities.
Does this policy not affect your business, especially since most people are going to such Hotels and Resorts to enjoy life in all respect ?
Our Policy has not affected our business at any stage and that we have a large number of customers including foreigners who regularly come and enjoy their stay at our Hotels and Resorts. From more than three decades of our experiences in the hospitality sector until now, It is proved beyond any doubt that it is not necessary to serve alcohol in-order to attract the customers. In Kerala, labor problem is one of the major threats that affect most of the industries during the process of its development.
Have you ever been faced with any such difficult situation ?
We have never been faced with anydifficult situation posed by labor unrest, during the course of our development. But of course, we were faced with some other difficult situation, while building our Hotel & Resort Complex in Munnar due to the controversy regarding encroachment. Though, we were not involved in the encroachment issue, incidentally we were also trapped in it. But, now it is all legally cleared and there is no more problem for us.
Did the recession have any impact on your running the business. Up to what extent did it affect you ?
Though, the recession was an international phenomenon, it did not have any impact on our business, especially since we have intensified the Marketing Campaign to cop with the situation. The domestic trend has also created a favorable situation, for example the International Fair, Kerala Shopping Festival, Road Show etc. has helped a lot in the promotion of business.
Does the Government policy have any impact on the promotion of Hotel and Tourism sector ?
Though, the Government have introduced certain policies for the promotion of IT and Tourism sectors, it has not benefited the Tourism sector much. The wrong policy followed by the Government in the matter of building tax has affected the Tourism sector in a very negative way. It is still following the age old taxation policy in the tourism sector. The tax that is imposed on the Hotels and Resorts which play a prominent role in the promotion of Tourism is that for commercial buildings. The tax that was fixed 25 years ago is still being charged for the older buildings. Kerala is the only state in India where such a taxation policy still exists. The only advantage is that, there is no politicization in the Tourism sector, unlike in other sectors.
Are you associated with any social or cultural organizations ? Do you hold any official position in such organizations?
I am associated with various social, cultural and charitable organizations .Have served as President, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Cochin; Chairman, Federation of Indian Export Organization Kerala; president, Kerala Travel Mart Society; District Governor & Council Chairperson, Lions clubs International and Trustee , Cochin Port Trust. Is also Chairman of Aasia Bai Higher Secondary School, KMEA Higher Secondary School and KMEA Engineering College. Also, serving as Chairman of Cochin Orphanage Trust.
What do you have to say about your family and education ?
I am married to Jabeen and has a son Faiz. I am born in Cochin on 15th April 1953, in a traditional business family. Had my education in Cochin. After postgraduation in English literature, joined the family business.