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Railways derail in selling Tourism Packages in Odissa

The Railway's effort to hard sell its tourism packages in Odisha seems to have been derailed. After over six months of the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, and state-run Orissa tourism development corporation (OTDC) signing an MoU to explore tourism potential of the state and other regions in the country, not a single rail tour package has been sold till date.

As per the agreement signed on September 20, 2011 at Bhubaneswar, the IRCTC floated 10 rail tour packages connecting Bhubaneswar with a host of enchanting tourist destinations like Tirupati, Jaipur, Goa and Kanyakumari in the country, sources said.

"Customers are inquiring about the packages but nobody has so far purchased any of the packages," said OTDC marketing manager Alok Mishra. According to the agreement, OTDC was to sell rail tour packages and IRCTC was to promote and sell OTDC products through its website. "Both OTDC and IRCTC were to take care of the guests and provide transport facility and accommodations," Mishra said.

IRCTC's group general manager (tourism, east zone),  said he would discuss the matter with OTDC authorities to find out what is going wrong with selling the packages. He said the packages have been well designed for tourists hard-pressed for time as also those looking for a break. "IRCTC arranges full trains, coaches as well as reserved berths in regular trains depending on the inflow of customers," he said.

Meanwhile, IRCTC has decided to rope in private and government educational institutes in Odisha to woo students with its rail tour packages. "We have been receiving tremendous response from schools and colleges in other states. Students in large numbers are availing of our packages for study tour and leisure trips," said.

When asked about the progress of its proposed Rail Ratna budget hotel in Bhubaneswar, GM said, "A fresh tender would be floated, as applicants during previous tender failed to comply with the conditions." The Railways in 2006 had chosen Bhubaneswar and Puri besides 98 other cities in the country to set up the Rail Ratna chain of budget hotels near railway stations for tourists and rail. passengers.