INDIA (eTN) – Reaction of the India’s tourism industry on the railway budget has swift in response to its announcement in Parliament on February 26, 2015.
The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) President, Mr. Subhash Goyal, expressed his happiness with the rail budget saying, “No increase in passenger fares, and tickets can be booked 120 days in advance instead of 60 days, to tackle [the] tout menace is a landmark decision.”
Mr. Subhash Goyal said, “This was our long pending demand with the previous government, and we are happy that the present government has implemented this and our members would be able to book train tickets for their foreign clients well in advance and show them the rich cultural heritage of India through rail journeys.”
Mr. Goyal added: “Some positive steps have been announced in the railway budget which will boost rail tourism, and our members would be able to render better services, which in turn will give greater satisfaction, security for women, and travel comforts. This, no doubt will create a good image of country’s railway system and good business for our members.”
He profusely thanked Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Honorable Minister for Railways, for his innovative thinking.
Highlights of the rail budget, which means a lot to the tourism industry, are:
• No increase in passenger fares
• Tickets can be booked 120 days in advance instead of 60 days to tackle the tout menace
• Introduction of trains similar to bullet trains in design which will run on existing tracks
• Wi-fi to be available at 400 railway stations
• Development of 10 satellite railway stations this year
• Expansion of water vending machines at more stations
• On-board entertainment facility could be extended on Shatabdi trains
• Improvement of cleanliness & design of bed linen
• All India 24×7 grievances helpline 138 to start soon
• 7,000 more toilets to be replaced by Bio-Toilets, and new toilets at 650 stations, with more vacuum toilets
• Rail connectivity to Northeastern states
• CCTVs to be introduced in select trains and suburban trains for women’s safety
Mr. Subhash Goyal further added that:
• It is essential that trains must run as per schedule and maintain the timings so that tourists’ programs are not disturbed due to inordinate delays. On safety and cleanliness, which has been announced in the rail budget, this must get implemented at the earliest.
• Even though the ministry has announced cleanliness of the railways station, these need to be decorated as per the cultural heritage and the colors of the particular state where the railway station is. The cuisine and handicraft of that state should be available at the railway stations.
• We are happy that railways will do joint venture with travel agents for certain trains, but the small tour operators who are recognized by the Ministry of Tourism, government of India do not have the facility to book rail tickets in advance. I am sure the Railway Minister and Modi government would take care of all the government recognized tour operators so that they are able to book tickets as rail ticket agents of an Indian railways agent and provide service to both their foreign and Indian tourists.