The Railways is now gearing up to promote tourism in the country in a big way by introducing a variety of package tours to suit travellers with different budgets. While earlier the focus was on high-end luxury tours like the Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan, designed mainly for foreign tourists, it is now planning a wide range of packages that are affordable for the common man.
The latest in the series is a weekend tour to the famed Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir which receives a steady stream of devotees round the year. To be launched on January 26, this all-inclusive economy tour will be available from Delhi every Friday evening on the superfast Rajdhani Express.
According to a senior official at the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) that conducts the tour, this package will enable devotees to have a hassle-free visit to the shrine over the weekend and return to Delhi early Monday morning.
Priced at Rs 3,950 per adult, the package includes travel by three-tier airconditioned coaches to Jammu, onward journey to base station Katra by deluxe buses, hotel stay and all meals. The return journey from Jammu will be on Sunday evening by Uttar Sampark Kranti Express.
By a rough calculation, if a tourist were to make the trip on his own and avail similar facilities, he would have to shell out over Rs 1,000 more than the package tour cost, the official stated. Not to mention the extra effort involved in arranging for the local stay and transportation.
"The IRCTC plans to be a one-stop shop where a customer can book all the facilities on a trip at the click of a mouse, sitting in the comfort of his home, and enjoy a relaxed holiday," he said. The reservations can be made by clicking on email@example.com .
Similar packages are also planned on the Buddhist circuit besides a 'Bharat Darshan' tour that will enable the middle class tourists to visit prominent cities across the country in the non-airconditioned coaches.