Indian Railways cancel luxury tour post-Mumbai attack

January 17th, 2009 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 17 (IANS) Indian Railways’ joint venture with a private tour operator for a luxury package tour from Kolkata to Mumbai via Goa had to be postponed till the end of 2009 after denied security assurances from Goa government, the tour company officials said Saturday.The Railways’ service arm, the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) tied up with Kolkata-based tour operator I-Nova to offer tourists a package tour on a 16-coach luxury train, complete with hostesses, belly-dancers, multi-cuisine food and even a star-studded Bollywood night.

“Director of Goa Tourism department Elvis Gomes told us after the Mumbai terror attacks that there is a threat at the beaches too and he will be unable to provide security to so many tourists (over 700) at the moment,” I-Nova group’s managing director Rajib Mukherjee told reporters here.

He further noted the Goa government has already banned all beach parties.

“And, one of the USPs of our tour was the beach carnival at Goa that included belly dancers, samba and salsa dancers from Brazil and Russia, a rain dance party and Asian martial arts performance. So, there is no point in going to Goa and not enjoying the beach.”

The tour conductors had numerous discussions with the Coast Guard Inspector General (IG) (western region).

“The IG advised us not to take the risk. We too got scared,” said Mukherjee.

Mukherjee also said the tour operators wrote to the central home ministry seeking security for tourists during their rail journey.

“The train was to take the Karnataka route from Kolkata and back. But the home ministry has yet not responded to our letter asking to assure security during the journey.”

However, IRCTC, which provided the train, has not incurred any loss. But I-Nova has suffered a loss of Rs.70 million.

“IRCTC will not suffer any loss as we will adjust the amount with other tours we conduct round the year,” Mukherjee said.

The tour scheduled for Jan 2-11, has been postponed to December 2009.

“Already, 50 percent reservations have been done for the December tour,” Mukherjee said.

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