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Priyanka Chopra's wedding ensured no revenue shortfall for 3 months at Jodhpur property

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Mumbai, Dec 17: Actor Priyanka Chopra's wedding at a palatial property in Jodhpur helped it ensure that there is no revenue shortfall for three months, a top official from Indian Hotels said on Monday.

Puneet Chhatwal, chief executive officer and managing director of Indian Hotels Company Ltd that operates the Umaid Bhawan Palace, said this while speaking about the importance of the top percentile of the spenders and their importance to the industry.

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Chopra, former beauty queen-turned-actor, married to American singer-songwriter Nicholas Jerry Jonas last year at the property that once used to be the seat of the royalty in December last year.

"That one per cent (of top spenders) helps. Last year, we had Priyanka Chopra's wedding in Umaid Bhawan Palace and it makes up for the revenue of 3 months. One is enough," Chhatwal said while speaking at the Times Network's India Economic Conclave here.

According to reports that had come in sections of media following the wedding, the couple had spent over USD 461,000 on the venue alone that would have included four-day stays for the wedding party in the palace's rooms and also the cost of hiring the venue for the big day.

While stressing the importance of weddings for the hospitality industry, Chhatwal also said the Isha Ambani-Anand Piramal wedding would also have helped a lot of brands.

Chhatwal said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the sector's prospects in India, which has seen a massive decline in consumption and especially discretionary spends amid a period of slowdown in economic growth to six-year lows. He also hinted that other events, including the ongoing protests, have an impact on the sector.

"We tend to forget whether it is a terror attack in Sri Lanka or it is something happening in our own country (like) in the North East, all this has a general impact...on how you think, how you behave and how you spend your money," he said.

"I do believe that there is a change in the season. It is wedding, christmas, new year. We can be cautiously optimistic that things might change, but the winds of uncertainty are strong and have been (there) for the last 6-9 months," Chhatwal said.

Speaking at the same event, Shekhar Ramamurthy, managing director and chief executive of alcohol maker UBL, said there has been an impact on his industry because of the slowdown as people are refraining from getting tipsy.

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"The government should push up the sentiment and ensure there is money in people's pockets that has to come through...we are not talking of tax relief, it will come and go away," he said.

He also added that while the urban consumption may be holding up, there is a need to address the distress in the rural sector as well.

Chhatwal said the company is signing up newer hotels and opening properties at a high pace, despite difficulties like a slowdown in a hike in prices and pointed out that in the past 20 months, Indian Hotels has signed 40 contracts. He said the prices are depressed because of a dip in inflation globally.

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