The Tourism Ministry and the IRCTC have enlisted 60 bloggers from 23 countries, including India, as part of a new publicity blitz to write on luxury trains run by the railways and improve their dwindling occupancy rate. The first-of-its-kind venture will allow the bloggers to take a week-long journey on Palace on Wheels, Maharaja Express, Deccan Odyssey and Golden Chariot in groups of 15 on each of the trains, a tourism ministry statement said today. The first 15 bloggers started their journey today on the Palace on Wheels from Safdarjung Railway Station in New Delhi.
The decision to promote travel on the trains comes after a recent parliamentary panel report pointed out that the occupancy rate during past four years - starting in 2012-13 - had been 29.86 per cent, 32.33 per cent, 41.8 per cent, 41.58 per cent and 36.03 per cent respectively. It had also said that most of the seats on these trains were occupied by passengers who had complimentary tickets. The bloggers, who have been chosen on the basis of their number of followers, will travel to destinations in various states across India on the trains and write about them. "The campaign will generate widespread publicity for the luxury trains as well as the destinations visited, by way of blogs, videos and photos published by the bloggers or Instagramers on their experiences of their journey.
Needless to say this initiative would benefit the railways and the luxury train operators to a large extent", the statement said. The second group will leave Delhi on Maharaja Express on February 10, and the third group is scheduled to leave on Deccan Odyssey on the same day from the Chaatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai. The final group will leave on Golden Chariot on February 19 from Bengaluru on a week-long journey.
The Railway Board, the state sovernments of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka and the IRCTC - the tourism arm of the railways - have joined hands to host the bloggers, according to the statement.