Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Ltd is an oft quoted online success story among Government enterprises. The portal, with $120 million (about Rs 500 crore) in bookings in 2006, is expected to contribute 8 per cent of Indian Railways' revenues by 2008. Taking that potential further, IRCTC has launched a tourism website, www.railtourismindia.com
Indian rail travel packages, especially for tourists, are not widely advertised globally. This website is clearly aimed at being a marketing tool for Indian Railways to attract foreigners and non resident Indians (NRIs).
Other tour packages are also on offer, categorised by geographical location, and include railway travel, hotels and sight seeing. The bookings, which have not opened yet, will be made through the IRCTC site.
That said, there could well be e-commerce on the new site, which has been secured for online transactions through VeriSign, apart from Master Card and Visa gateways. As for existing users of IRCTC, they can update their profiles to register for tour packages on the site. For payments through Internet banking (ICICI Bank and IDBI Bank), there will be a transaction charge of 10 per cent.
The website has been designed by the US-based web applications company BroadVision Inc. BroadVision has also designed the main IRCTC portal. On its website, the company states, "In the next phase, IRCTC's travel portal will add other tourism and reservation touch points and expand ticket delivery services to all major cities in India."
Going by the structure of the site, there are plans to introduce hotel and cab bookings. Despite repeated attempts, no IRCTC official was available for comment.
While the site is a good idea, it all depends on how well the tours are organised, feels a railway watcher. It depends significantly on whether IRCTC or Indian Railways will take care of the on-ground implementation. The customer care number is being handled by IRCTC, but further details are awaited.
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