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Inter-state cooperation suggested in running of luxury trains

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, June 5 (UNI) Going by the success of 'Palace on Wheels', which has been fully booked till 2010, there is scope for running the second Palace on Wheels and other luxury trains, a top Railway official today said but suggested there should be inter-state cooperation in these ventures.

''The operation of a luxury train like Palace on Wheels should not be confined to one state but extended to cover regional tourism circuits,'' Mr Rakesh Saxena, Director (Tourism), IRCTC, said.

Addressing a luncheon meeting of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) here, Mr Saxena also suggested the possibility of public-private partnership in such ventures.

More importantly, he said there was an imperative need for inter-state cooperation in the running of luxury trains for high-end tourists.

Responding to a plea made by IATO president Subhash Goyal that members should also be allowed to sell railway tickets, Mr Saxena said his ministry would consider it if the proposal was submitted by the national body of tour operators.

''The Railway Ministry would consider it if the IATO forwarded the proposal laced with adequate safeguards,'' the official said.

He also suggested that the Golden Traingle, consisting of the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur sector, could be extended to cover Khajuraho and Varanasi, which had a great tourism potential.

Mr Saxena said the Railways proposed to allot land for about 100 hotels at places of tourist and commercial interest. The hotels would be run by the well-known hospitality chains, he said, hoping it would meet, to a large extent, the shortage of hotel rooms in the country.

Mr Goyal, in his address, lamented that the travel and tour operators, who were mainly responsible for the spectacular growth of in the fields of aviation and tourism, with their orgnisations like IATO spearheading a campaign for open sky policy, were being given a rough deal.

He was particularly critical of the imposition of the service tax, which he described as ''totally unjustified and discriminatory,'' Mr Amitabh Kant, Joint Secretary (Tourism) and Rajeev Talwar (Additional Director General), who were the guests of honour, acknowledged the role of travel agents and tour operators in the promotion and marketing of 'Brand India' abroad.

The two officials also assured IATO of their full support in backing its demands.

UNI/SKS AK RS1835

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