A humble personality with an extensive vision, Smt Rajni Hasija, Chairman & Managing Director, IRCTC under her mentorship has introduced various initiatives which have gradually uplifted rail-based travel.
Encouraging rail-based tourism
Rail has always been a preferred mode of transport for ages and, an uprise in rail-based tourism can be witnessed in India. IRCTC has been an extended arm of the railways and continues to be so. The mission and vision of IRCTC have always been to promote tourism on railways with an array of rail tours. IRCTC initially started with the Value Added Tour Packages (VAT) where the confirmed reservation is provided along with the other tour packages. Later, IRCTC aimed at targeting the mass tourism category, where many trains were running, and the same is being continued. We are also assisting the Government of India and have been running election specials and various other specials such as CRPF special, Shramik special, etc. Whatever is happening in the field of tourism through rails, the majority of that chunk is going through IRCTC. With the launch of theme-based trains, IRCTC is creating an opportunity to explore and offer an ultimate experience to its travellers.
Tourism taking the shape
The past one and half years have been an unpleasant phase for the travel and hospitality industry. When we started re-coping in the month of January, and the mass bookings were back, the second wave cracked in. With the ongoing vaccination drive, and states taking due diligence, gradually the traffic is coming back, but not at the full zeal as it used to be during the pre-covid time. In the air business, our air bookings are returning to normal, the train bookings have been doing positively well, although still few trains are yet to start their operation. We have done a favourable beginning in the segment of mass tourism. The Bharat Darshan train, a mass tourism product of IRCTC in the religious sector took off very positively in January this year, but because of the second wave, we had to cancel many such trains. In the deluxe segment, the recovery is pretty faster. Before the second wave, we could run only one train, ie, Padharo Rajasthan and but now we have launched Char Dham special, Ramayana special in the same segment, and many new itineraries are in the pipeline. The response from the industry is very appreciable, people are picking up our packages, and our air packages to Leh-Ladakh-Srinagar are a good time hit. Therefore, we are likely to get some bookings this year.
An array of initiatives in the pipeline
In recent times, IRCTC has been alluring with its range of tourism products and offerings. In the times to come, we are planning to make our entrance in the NF region which is yet to be announced. We have one itinerary for the Ramayana circuit and are creating different itineraries in the Jyotirlinga circuit. In the coming days, we are planning to attempt in the Jain circuit as well. We did organise an adventure tour in Meghalaya in the form of a biking tour, and the outcome was indeed very commendable. Presently, we intend to offer many such routes in the Ernakulam region, the Rann of Kutch, and we are also tying up with agencies for organising Biking tours in various destinations.
95-99 per cent of the booking happening in IRCTC is through the online portal. We are very much there in the online industry when it comes to railways, we are the leader, but in the air, bus, and hotel segment, we are gradually placing our feet. Recently, we have directly tied up with the hotels, and IRCTC is also in the process of creating its own inventory rather than hiring from an aggregator to provide the best of the rates to our customers. In the cruise segment, earlier IRCTC has tied up with Norwegian Cruise Line, and now we are making a beginning with the domestic cruise Cordelia Cruises.
Ministry of Tourism has launched a scheme Dekho Apna Desh, and the Honourable Prime Minister has also stated that each person should see at least 50 such places, considering that IRCTC is launching a special tourism product for the middle segment. For the Bharat Darshan, we are running a package of Rs 900 a day, and if we provide the AC III-tier we will be able to cater to the upper clientele as well. We have many circuits to work with, such as Sufi, Ramayana, Jyotirlinga, Krishna, Jain, and we intend to experiment few under this scheme. Our focus is to make India travel to a unique destination and offer them a saga of experiences.