The special offer announced for the Dasara season on the Golden Chariot, south India’s first luxury train, is yet to draw international tourists, especially those from Europe and the U.S., for the trip scheduled on October 7.
“The reason could be due to the downturn in global economy. We normally get tourists from Europe and the U.S. for the trips. But, so far, despite the special offer, the response from foreign travellers has not been encouraging.
But, we hope to get response for the second trip,” according to KSTDC Managing Director C.D. Dyavaiah.
The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC), which runs the Golden Chariot in partnership with the Indian Railways, has announced a special 15 per cent discount for trips scheduled on October 7 and 14 in view of Dasara season.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Dyavaiah said: “We are getting enquiries from domestic tourists and hope that these are converted to bookings.”
Though the official did not disclose the number of bookings so far, he expressed the confidence that bookings would be good for the trips based on the enquiries received from potential clients.
However, those who do not wish to take an eight-day and seven-night sojourn (regular trip on the train) can opt for a shorter sojourn which is available only during the Dasara season. The three-night and four-day package comes at Rs. 35,000 (all inclusive) per person, according to the KSTDC.
The Dasara special discount offer is valid only for the Pride of the South itineraries. Pride of the South trip covers the State’s best-known tourist destinations — Mysore, Kabini, Belur, Halebid, Hampi, Badami and Aihole. The trip ends in Goa.
The offer is not available for the Southern Splendour journey which starts at Bangalore, covering the historical temples of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and the backwaters of Kerala before returning to source.
Mr. Dyavaiah said that Dasara was being promoted abroad but bookings from foreign tourists are not forthcoming perhaps, due to economic downturn. “Moreover, rupee is stabilising against the U.S. dollar. This might be another reason for fewer bookings from American travellers. In fact, we expected good bookings from foreign tourists.”
To a question, he said that there are enquiries for group bookings from domestic tourists too. “We are also focussing on corporate clients,” he added.
The train’s first commercial run began on March 10, 2008. It completed its 100th trip in November last. The train has managed to attract domestic travellers due to aggressive marketing. It registered 100 per cent occupancy (all its 40 cabins were occupied) on the 100th trip, with 75 per cent of passengers being domestic travellers.