NEW DELHI —
Potential customers of high end property in India are being enticed by an unusual offer: the chance to spend an evening with the son of the American president if they decide to invest in residential projects licensed by the family’s company.
Donald Trump Junior’s week-long visit to India starting Monday could not escape attention: full, front page newspaper advertisements in the country’s most prominent newspapers have posed the question: “Trump is here. Are you invited?” and “Trump has arrived. Have you?"
Trump Jr. has been in charge of the Trump Organization along with his brother Eric since their father became president.
The advertisements, which featured large photos of Trump Jr, said that those signing up before 22nd February to buy apartments could join him for “a conversation and dinner.”
His first stop will be Gurugram, a business hub on the outskirts of New Delhi, where local firms under a license from the Trump Organization are developing two 47-story towers bearing the Trump brand name. The more than 250 super-luxury units in the residential blocks are selling for approximately $1 million to $1.5 million each.
India is the Trump Organization’s biggest overseas market, earning the family up to $3 million in royalties in 2016.
The hope of the business partners is that the high profile visit of the American president’s son could give sales a boost at a time when India’s real estate market is witnessing a downturn — property prices have dipped nearly 30 percent following a crackdown on untaxed money by the government. In Gurugram, home to several luxury projects, many prominent builders are stuck with hundreds of unsold flats.
Referring to the visit, Samir Juneja at PropEquity, a real estate data analytics company says “There is this big marketing push which is working pretty well.” According to him, the association of the projects with the American president’s family does help. “The brand has been created and now it happens to get a further fillip that it happens to be the president’s.”
But there is criticism of the sales trip since the advertisements began appearing on the weekend. Patrick French, a British historian who is currently Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad University in India tweeted, “For the last however many days every newspaper in India has been wrapped in this abominable invitation to dinner with Trump Jr.”
A retired professional in Gurugram, Umesh Sood, was not sure if the sales pitch of a dinner and conversation with Trump Jr. would actually prompt people to put their money down.
“You are not meeting the president, you are meeting the son with the same name, without the powers, without the pomp.”
Questions have also been raised over issues of conflict of interest. The New York Times quoted Daniel S. Markey, who worked on South Asia policy for the State Department during the George W. Bush administration, as saying that "The idea that the president's son would be going and shilling the president's brand at same time Donald Trump is president and is managing strategic and foreign relations with India - that is just bizarre."
Two of the organizations four Indian projects, in Mumbai and Pune, were launched before Donald Trump was elected president. The Kolkata and Gurugram projects were launched later, but the deals had been signed before his election. The Trump Organization announced it would not launch any project outside the US after he became president.
Trump Jr. is the second child of Donald Trump to visit India. Ivanka Trump visited in November, in her capacity as a member of Trump administration, to address a global entrepreneurship summit.