IRCTC puts rail-based tourism on fast track

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New Delhi, Oct 2 (UNI) Signalling its intention to aggressively enter the 'From Doorstep to Destination' tourism segment, the Railways has hammered out a dynamic marketing strategy, promising to provide top rate but affordable short-duration exclusive tour packages across the country through Public Private Participation (PPP).

Under the strategy, being executed by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), rail-based tourism will be the specific vehicle for achieving high growth in revenues in coordination with state agencies, tour operators, travel agents and the hospitality industry.

''Our objective is to provide hundred per cent hassle-free journeys to customers by facilitating catering, hospitality, travel and tourism with best industry practices --- all under a single roof and with an affordable price tag,'' an IRCTC official said.

In fact, the plan of IRCTC, a Public Sector Undertaking of the Railway Ministry, is to provide mostly weekend getaways to the middle class people, who are willing to undertake journeys provided these are hassle-free and everything is pre-arranged. In effect, they do not have to bother about going to ticket reservation counters, finding suitable hotel accommodation or looking for transportation.

"All such arrangements --- lodging, boarding, travelling, meals and sightseeing --- will be done by IRCTC once a customer chooses a travel package. We can pick up the passengers from their doorsteps and drop them back to their residences on the completion of the journey,'' he said.

While some of the tour packages have already become operational in various parts of the country; in the northern region, IRCTC has planned to promote tourism in a big way covering Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

In all, IRCTC has planned 18 short duration packages. These include: Delhi,Kalka,Kasauli,Kalka,Delhi (2 nights/3 days); Chandigarh,Pinjor-Morni Hills,Chandigarh (1nt/2 days); Delhi-Ambala,Kurukshetra,Thanesar,Jyotiser-Pehowa-Ambala-Delhi -- (Mahabharat Darshan) --- (1nt/2days); Delhi-Una-Kangra-Una-Delhi --- Devi Darshan Tour --- (1 nt/2 days); Delhi-Chandigarh (Sports/Golf Tourism); Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Lakshman Jhoola-Ram Jhoola-Delhi (Daily); Delhi-Mussoorie-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Delhi (1 night/2 days) every Thursday/Friday; Delhi-Katra-Patnitop-Katra-Delhi (2 nts/3 days); New Delhi,Kalka-Shimla,Bilaspur,Kangra,UNA (2 nts/3 days); and New Delhi-Puri-New Delhi (7nts/6days) Seven of these packages have already become operational and the remaining eleven will be operated by March next year in a phased manner.

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