The plane, the plane

Private equity firms are preparing to invest heavily in budget hotels in India as tourism numbers are set to grow, so they will be happy to learn the country is doing everything in its power to attract visitors.

The Incredible India campaign organized by the Tourism Board has been winning plaudits across the globe. And securing the right to stage the 2010 Commonwealth Games was seen as a massive boost to the country's growing tourism industry.

But now the government may be entering talks to bring another event to its shores.

Aero GP may not yet be a household name, but with plans to hold a world series of sporting events, it promises to gain more publicity. The unusual concept is for daredevil acrobatic pilots to race airplanes around a tight circuit at near ground level and engage in spectacular dogfights.

Launched in 2005, the inaugural race was held in Slovenia; the second event, pictured here, took place in Malta this September.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, India's Minister for Tourism, Ambika Soni, had not heard of the event until recently, when she spoke at the India Tourism Infrastructure Development forum (see p. 18), where a representative of Aero GP sat just three seats away.

On hearing about the company's events, Soni promised to set up meetings to discuss the concept further.

According to the company's website, races can be held almost anywhere—company founder Jeff Zaltman told PERE that all he needs are two square kilometers of space and no tall obstacles. Potential sites could include populated city centers, auto racing circuits, desert dunes, resort beaches, mountainous airfields and well-known exotic locations.

“We compete wherever the air dares hold us!” says the site.

So any investor thinking of opening a hotel near, say, the Taj Mahal, should not be surprised to see planes racing overhead sometime soon.