The Ministry of Railways has prepared a Draft Policy 2017 for promoting tourism.
Under the policy, tourism will be one of the frontline activities with the railways. Its scope will further be be increased by focusing on domestic and international tourists and by making value-addition to tourism products, especially designed for this segment.
The major proposals under the Draft Policy are as follows.
- According to the Draft, railways will position the following products for each segment –
- Luxury Tourist Trains
- Semi-Luxury Tourist Trains
- Buddhist Special Train
- Bharat Darshan Trains
- Astha Circuit Trains
- State Tirth Trains
- Flexi-package Tourist Trains
- Ordinary Tourist Trains
- Ordinary Tourist Coach
- Dedicated Tourist Coaches
- Hill Tourist Trains
- Steam Tourist Trains
- Value-added Tour package
- Foreign Tourist Quota
- IRCTC, the tourism arm of the Indian Railways, will position itself as a onestop shop for all the requirements of both domestic and international tourists.
- IRCTC will also strive to work out a link between railways, other infrastructure earning agencies and tour operators.
- Booking of specialized tourism products will be done online through the websites of IRCTC or State Tourism Corporations.
- The charging principle of tourist trains will be decided separately on case-to-case basis.
- The Indian Railways (IR) will introduce dedicated train services for domestic and international tourists, catering to customers at all income levels.
- The Railways will also reserve special coaches for tourists on trains running through tourist spots across the country. It will auction such dedicated tourist coaches to tour operators at a premium based on which the tour operator may carry the passengers/tourists to be booked by it.
- The IR will look to increase the frequency of hill tourist trains during peak season and has proposed reviving steam trains to be operated in hill stations.
- An effort will be made to involve private participation in operating more (hill tourist) trains and also to improve the financial conditions in hill railways in general through Public Private Partnership.
- ‘Bharat Darshan Trains’ catering common people with sleeper class coaches will also be launched. Such tourist trains will be at affordable rates so that ordinary citizens can use it.
- For promoting religious tourism, the IR proposed introducing Astha Circuit Trains and State Tirth Trains.
- Advance booking of seats for foreign tourists will begin a year in advance so that they can plan their journey.
The Draft Tourism Policy has been posted on the official website of the Indian Railways. Tour operators, citizens can send in their suggestions till April 24, 2014.