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R'than to rope in private players to develop tourism

The Rajasthan government plans to develop the tourism industry on a public-private partnership model.

The properties and assets of the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC), dak bungalows, inspection bungalows and rest houses of government departments will be given to private hands.

Sources said a search is on for properties across the state that could be developed by roping in private players after directions from the Chief Minister’s Office.

The order from the CMO said “a list of old properties at strategic locations be prepared immediately and a mechanism be evolved so that they are restored, the interiors are done and a management mechanism, preferably on PPP be evolved.”

The assets of RTDC are being given to private hands as the corporation has been running into huge losses for the past several years, especially after the advent of private hotels in the state.

Lack of proper maintenance, modern facilities and infrastructure has been the major reason for most tourists not preferring to stay in RTDC properties.

Apart from RTDC assets, dak bungalows, inspection bungalows and rest houses of other departments like forest and public works department will also be leased to private players.

Experts are of the view that privatisation of tourism sector will not only attract tourists in summer, which is a lean period for the industry, but visitors to Rajasthan will have more options to stay.

Earlier, the government had decided to lease out 35 forts to private players, who will convert them into hotels. Initially, six forts have been identified for leasing in the first phase of the project. It includes Jalore Fort, Sojat Fort, Shahabad Fort, Malkot Fort, Ramgarh Fort and Shergarh Fort.

“We are looking to bring huge investment to our state. The leasing out process will help us garner financial resources required for restoration and protection of our tourism related properties and historic forts. Besides, tourists will have more options and facilities,” said S K Agarwal, state principal secretary, tourism.

However, the privatisation policy has been a cause of concern for employees of the tourism department.

“The process of leasing out RTDC properties has already begun. But the government should make it clear about the status of employees working in RTDC hotels, motels and other properties,” said Tej Singh, leader of RTDC Employees’ Union.

Luxury trains

Worldwide Rail Journeys, promoter of luxury train tours in India, will launch a one-of-its kind train called the Unity Express. The train’s first trip has been sold out to a South African group. The first trip’s itinerary includes New Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Khajuraho and then back to New Delhi.

Date:2014 Dec 03

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