The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s (KSRTC) Budget Tourism Cell is set to roll out a slew of additional trips, including inter-State packages, to woo more visitors during the summer vacation. While discussions are on to make the itineraries more diverse by coordinating with the Transport departments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, a spate of new local circuits will also be added to the schedules.
Since its establishment in 2021 November, the KSRTC Budget Tourism Cell has operated over 4,500 trips, helping the Corporation earn an extra income of ₹16 crore without much additional investment. “We are planning to operate 1,500 trips during April-May. Though we have inter-State packages, they are limited. The idea is to extend our service to popular destinations such as Udagamandalam and a bevy of other underexplored spots such as Meghamalai,” says a senior official.
The KSRTC’s new fleet of 131 superfast buses with modern amenities will be sent to various depots in the State to operate the trips during the peak season. “Four buses have already arrived at Thiruvananthapuram. By April, around 100 buses will be deployed in all districts. Since it will be vacation time, it will not affect routine services,” he says.
The tourism cell is also exploring the possibilities of a cruise line, mainly targeting Alappuzha and Kumarakam. The KSRTC is currently offering 800 different packages that includes city tours and sightseeing services covering particular districts.
During a time span of 15 months, more than 3.5 lakh persons have utilised the service to visit various destinations, with Munnar topping the list. At present, 25 depots are operating services to Munnar, while Malakkapara and the recently-added Gavi have also emerged as popular destinations. Trips to forest destinations, including Nelliyampathy, Thattekad, Ponmudi, Rosemala and Arippa, also have many takers, and the authorities are trying to include more lesser-known spots.
“Our package to Gavi from Pathanamthitta depot costs only ₹1,300 per person and that includes boating and lunch. It is cheaper compared to other packages, including those offered by the Forest department. We will start the works for a dormitory shortly. For us, 2023 is a year of expansion and we are planning trips to some major destinations in India by the year-end,” says the official.