With an aim to attract foreign tourists, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has decided to start a luxury bus service to Konkan from Mumbai and Pune.
MTDC has purchased five such Volvo buses which have facilities like chemical toilets, fridge, oven, Wi-Fi at a cost of Rs 5.48 crore.
The tourist packages will be for three or five days.
Private operators will be roped in for conducting the tours and an MoU will be signed between MTDC and the operator.
Competitive bids have been invited and MTDC hopes that the bus service will start commercial operations in the first week of January, sources in the tourism department told PTI.
The sightseeing packages will include all tourism sites on Mumbai-Sindhudurg and Pune-Sindhudurg routes.
From Mumbai, the bus will halt at Raigad, Harihareshwar, Chiplun, Ganpati Pule, Pawas, Ratnagiri, Kunkeshwar, Tarkarli, Malwan, Sawantwadi and then return to Mumbai.
Similarly, the Pune route will cover Kolhapur, Sawantwadi, Tarkarli, Malwan, Kunkeshwar, Ganpati Pule, Pawas and Ratnagiri. The bus will again come to Ganpati Pule, proceed to Pawan Khind, Panhala Fort, Jyotiba Mandir and return to Pune.
Ticket fares will be fixed after competitive bids are finalised, sources informed.
The tourist package will cover temples, beaches and sea forts in the Konkan region.
Every year approximately 14 lakh foreign tourists arrive in Mumbai and then proceed to different parts of the country, sources said.
"Our endeavour will be to attract these tourists to stay back and enjoy the scenic beauty of Konkan region," they added.
In the 12th Finance Commission, Rs 225 crore were allocated to the tourism department for upgrading infrastructure, resorts and repairing of guest houses. Out of this Rs 5.5 crore were allocated for purchasing Volvo luxury buses, sources said.
Tourism Minister Chhagan Bhujbal will launch the project in Mumbai tomorrow under which a symbolic tour would be conducted to Konkan.
Konkan region, in the southern most tip of Maharashtra, has three districts Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. Sindhudurg was declared a tourism district in 1999.