The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), which represents 11,000 members who own and operate 22,000 properties across America, have gathered in Atlanta for their four-day annual event.
"Second- and third-tier towns in India are in desperate need of professionally run, affordable hotels. I think AAHOA members have the ability to transform this segment," Pitroda said after addressing the large gathering.
"If America with its little over 300 million population can have five million rooms, surely India with its billion plus people should at least match that number," he said.
During his address, he called on AAHOA members to create their own brands suitable for the Indian conditions, rather than just bringing their American franchises. "India is booming, and its 550 million people below the age of 25 are not only potentially the workforce for the world, but a major market for the hospitality industry as well," he said.
AAHOA members collectively own 40 percent of mid-sized hotels whose combined property value is pegged at USD120 billion and record annual business worth USD40 billion. AAHOA is the biggest such industry group, whose modest origin in 1989 with a handful of members was noted by Pitroda.
Pitroda said that with dispensable incomes among the Indian middle class rising, they travel around the country more than ever before, but are often hard-pressed to find decent accommodation. "AAHOA members can bring about a structure to this, and make travel a pleasurable experience like here in America," Pitroda told IANS.
Himanshu Vyas, an Ahmedabad-based entrepreneur and Congress Party leader, who is a frequent attendee at the AAHOA conventions, told IANS: "I have been impressing upon AAHOA members to get into the game right away. If Gujarat is their comfort zone, they should do it from there. However, as Pitroda said, the whole country is waiting to be transformed in terms of mid-segment hotels."
Vyas, who also represents the Ahmedabad chapter of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, said: "While there are individual AAHOA members who operate properties in India, I am keen that they should make their collective presence felt by offering hospitality management as part of a world-class training program."