The cash-strapped railways has something to cheer about. Its cash register is ringing, thanks to its tourism products, which have grown by over 100 per cent in the past one year.
The various railway tour packages offered by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) — a public sector enterprise under Ministry of Railways —- have earned revenue of Rs 199 crore in the past one year, up from a rather modest Rs 98 crore in the same period previous year.
Rolling out special trains with dedicated routes, reaching to famous destinations and targeting various tourist segments with costs of offerings — ranging from Rs 500 to over Rs 2 lakh per person — all have worked in favour of the railways. Encouraged by this, the IRCTC is planning to seek more trains. “This sector has seen a huge growth in the recent past. All the products are booked well in advance. For this year, we are seeking around five more trains to augment this line-up,” MD (IRCTC) Rakesh Tandon told The Indian Express.
From the IRCTC’s stable, the most popular and revenue-fetching product has turned out to be “Bharat Darshan” — the tour package for budget travellers that charges only Rs 500 a day including the cost of rail travel, road travel, meals, sight-seeing, accommodation and insurance. The package as contributed Rs 22 crore in just 75 trips in a year to the railways’ coffers.
On the other end of the spectrum, Maharaja Express — the ultra-luxury product with starting tariff of around $3500 for three nights, which is aimed mainly at high-end foreign tourists — has been also filling up the coffer. “Now, we are conceiving (to launch) more such products,” said Tandon.
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have also roped in the railways to run such packages for senior citizens and other targeted groups at subsidised rates, earning a total of Rs 65 crore from 97 tours in one year. Rajasthan is the latest state to emulate it.