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Storeowners eye sales but sceptical about Commonwealth Games tourist flow

New Delhi, Sep 18 (Calcutta Tube) With the Commonwealth Games round the corner, most shop owners, at high-end stores as well as popular markets, are eyeing a boom in sales. Some, though, are sceptical and fear that negative publicity over delay in preparations for the Games may result in fewer visitors than originally expected.

Those who have shops inside hotels like The Ashok, Janpath Hotel and Taj Mahal Hotel are optimistic of cashing in on foreign visitors. From handicrafts, antiques, rugs and carpets to jewellery, all these shops offer things that reflect Indian traditions.

‘Foreign tourists are huge admirers of Indian handicrafts. So we are planning to bring in fresh stocks of pashmina shawls, carpets, cushion covers and even curtains from Kashmir,’ Salman of the Little Kashmir in The Ashok told IANS.

‘We would offer up to 30 percent discount on all the items during the Games,’ he added.

The Games will take place Oct 3-14, and besides athletes and delegates from 53 countries, thousands of foreign tourists are expected to flock the capital for the event.

Sandeep Shah of the Burlingtons in The Ashok said as foreigners love Indian attire, they plan to bring in Jodhpuri sherwanis, kurta pyjamas for men and ready-to-wear saris for women.

‘Indian women know how to drape a sari. The foreign women don’t have the slightest idea of how to wear them but they still wish to buy one. So we are planning to put on sale ready-to wear saris,’ he added.

Ayush Jain of the Manohar Lall Bujjan Mall Jewellers in Hotel Janpath said they plan to offer necklaces, bracelets and earrings made of Indian stones.

‘Because they are coming to India, we will offer jewellery largely made of stones found only in India like the black star and smokey stone which they would love to take back home. We will also offer a 30-35 percent discount,’ he said.

Vijay Singh of Taj Mansingh Hotel, which has its own store known as Taj Khazana that offers Indian handicrafts, jewellery and clothes, said they expect a positive response.

‘We are looking forward to a positive response. We have a lot of foreign clientele who love Indian paintings and handicrafts. We expect a 25-30 percent increase in business during the Games,’ he added.

Even the popular markets are gearing up to welcome foreigners with new items.

Sarojini Nagar and Janpath Market, the favourite shopping destinations of foreign tourists, plan to lure them with fresh stocks.

Siddharth Popli of Popli Brass Shop in Janpath Market said: ‘A lot of foreign tourists come to Janpath Market to take home souvenirs from India. We are planning to bring in for them new and fresh items of brass with traditional Indian work.’

Arvind, who owns a shop in Sarojini Nagar which sells funky jewellery and clothes, is also looking forward to the Games.

‘A lot of foreigners come to Sarojini Nagar to shop for skirts, tops and even funky jewellery. With the Commonwealth Games we expect at least 50 percent increase in sales,’ he said.

However, delayed infrastructural development has, to an extent, dampened the spirits of some shopkeepers.

Surinder from Mahalaxmi in The Ashok that offers dress material, saris, jewellery with precious and semi-precious stones also has plans to make special arrangements for the visitors.

‘Delayed infrastructure preparations have left us with little hope that tourists would even come. I barely see growth in business with the Commonwealth Games,’ Surinder told IANS.

Some shop owners in Janpath Market in Connaught Palace are also skeptical.

Hamid Zandari of Elegant Arts said: ‘We have been hearing news that venues and roads are not ready, and a few players are contemplating giving the Games a miss.’

‘We can’t say how our business will fare during the Games. We don’t have much expectations,’ he said.

(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at priyanka.s@ians.in)

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