MTDC hits wall, no one expresses interest in special Volvos to Konkan

Plan
MTDC invited EoI twice since Nov, will invite another in a last-ditch effort to save plan.

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) plan to roll out special Volvo buses to Konkan region from Pune and Mumbai to give tourism in the scenic coastal area a boost has hit a bottleneck. There has been no response from tour operators to the expression of interest (EoI) the MTDC had invited twice since November.

MTDC would shortly invite EoI for the third and the last time, MTDC managing director Jagdish Patil told Newsline on Friday.

As proposed by Tourism Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, the Volvo buses will have Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS tracking systems, and LCD television among hi-tech facilities.

Three Konkan districts of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg have been considered by MTDC for starting Volvo bus services, through which popular tourist places in these districts would be covered under special tour packages of different duration.

"Tour operators have not responded to our EoI invited twice in the last couple of months. Now, we are inviting the same again for the last time. We have approached the MSRTC (State transport) and even some famous tour operators with our plan," Patil said.

He said MTDC plans to invest Rs 5.5 crore in the Volvo bus project. The tour operators would have to ensure luxurious and hassle-free service to tourists.

Harihareshwar, Murud-Janjira, Dive-agar in Raigad district, Temple of Lote Parshuram, Bhatye beach and Ganpatipule in Ratnagiri district and Sindhudurg fort, Tarkarli, Kunakeshwar and Sawantwadi in Sindhudurg district are being planned to be covered under the Volvo tour packages plan.

Increasing footfall of tourists, including visitors from abroad, to Konkan region every year has been boosting tourism and allied businesses in the coastal area. More than eight lakh tourists, including a considerable number of foreigners visit Konkan in New Year and other tourist seasons, resulting in business to the tune of over Rs 20 crore, as per sources in the hospitality industry.

Avid Konkan fans, awaiting the start of special Volvo buses, expressed dismay over the project not taking off. People hailing the move to start special Volvo services to Konkan were also hopeful that the services and packages would be within the reach of the common man. "Konkan is close to my heart for its serene and scenic beauty. The proposed Volvo bus services will no doubt offer better connectivity to the region and help visitors to properly plan tours. The authorities should see that the project gets started soon," said Anil Agrawal, an engineer.

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