India, being a culturally diverse nation, is one of the leading tourism destinations in the world. Tourism is significant to Indian economy. In 2015, World Travel & Tourism council estimated that tourism in India generates revenue worth $3 billion. It’s projected to grow up to $8 billion by 2020—a courtesy of Center’s tourism-friendly policies. Out of the three popular modes of travel—land, air and water, travelers prefer land over the rest. Railways—currently the lifeline of Indian tourism, contributes maximum share in revenue generated through tourism.
Knowing the significance of trains in tourism, the Indian Railway (IR) has framed a new draft on tourism policy this year. In this draft, they’ve mentioned the idea of running tourist trains on PPP (public private partnership) mode to accommodate more domestic and international tourists in travel hotspots. The policy facilitates tourist trains with differential tariff, which is certainly useful for occasional travelers.
Policies come and go! So, what’s different this time? IR has added more provisions to their railway tourism policy that will enhance its worth tenfold. Here’s why occasional railway travelers are excited about the new tourism policy.
Indian Railway’s New Tourism Policy Draft Considers the Needs of Middle-Class Travelers…
- The IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) will rope in other facilities along with tourist trains, such as hotel accommodations, local transportation and meals. It’s like they’ve designed a complete holiday package at cut-rates for the traveler’s convenience.
- To maximise revenues, the IR will reserve special coaches in regular trains. The entire coach will be dedicated to particular tour operators (Travel companies). This way, their regular customers can benefit from special service in a single coach. This clause is under consideration and authorities have invited comments for the same. The final details will be available on their official site by April 24.
- The IR will increase the frequency of hill tourism by train. During peak season, they’re planning to revive vintage trains for hill stations that will remind us of good old Malgudi days.
- A majority of domestic travellers in India belong to the middle class. To reduce train fare for the bigger lot, the IR will come up with a special scheme—‘Bharat Darshan’. Trains falling in this category will include sleeper coach for long-distance travel.
- Religion tourism will get a shot in the arm as IR will introduce new ‘Tirth Trains’ and ‘Astha Circuit Train’ for pilgrimage. This will be coupled with value-added services for senior citizens. All costs for this package will be borne by state governments.
- Foreign tourists and NRIs will now be able to book train tickets at least one year in advance. This means no more waiting in long queues at reservation counters!
These reasons are enough to get anyone excited. With implementation of this policy, we look forward to a year full of energy, excitement and lots of travel!