New Delhi, Oct 1 : Union Minister of Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni on Wednesday said that the Indian Railways have a critical role in the promotion of tourism in India.
The Union Ministry of Tourism, Indian Railways and Government of Punjab have agreed to launch and promote as a part of the Incredible India campaign, a luxury tourist train to cover popular destinations in Northern India.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the proposed train was signed here today between Ministry of Railways and Government of Punjab in the presence of the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Ambika Soni, the Minister of Railways, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Chief Minister of Punjab, Prakash Singh Badal.
Soni said, "Last year the estimated numbers of domestic travelers was nearly 450 million and a large number of these tourists use the Indian Railways to travel within the country."
"Given the importance of Indian Railways in promoting tourism, the Ministry of Tourism, expects a substantial support from the Indian Railways to increase the number of tourists in future," Soni said.
The process of establishing world-class stations, opening of new routes, provision of additional trains to popular destinations and the creation of budget accommodations at Railway stations are steps in the right direction, which will promote tourism, the Minister added.
She said that she appreciates the range of tourism products provided by the Indian Railways beginning from the Bharat Darshan trains, which enable the average income person to travel in comfort to the internationally renowned luxurious "Palace on Wheels".
The proposed tourist train will have all the elements of luxury and comfort on board for the tourists with well-trained staff to offer hospitality to the tourists.
With an assistance of Rs. 7.25 crore from the Ministry of Tourism, the luxury train will cover popular destinations like Amritsar, Dharamshala, Anandpur Sahib, Patiala, Kurukshetra, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi in the itinerary of seven days.
The project is expected to be ready for operation within two years.