MTDC misses the bus to cash in on summer rush

Apr 15, 2013, 01:09 IST | Niranjan Medhekar

The state tourism department's plan to roll out special Volvo buses to Konkan region from Pune and Mumbai has been delayed because of lack of proper strategy

A basic principle in business is that before making a hefty investment, a proper strategy must be in place to recover the money invested.

Still waiting: Tourism minister Chhagan Bhujbal inaugurated the five luxury buses last December, which were purchased for Rs 5 cr. File Pics.

Unfortunately, for authorities at the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) authorities, the belief is an exception to the law. Nearly four months after the state’s Tourism Minister set the ball rolling by purchasing five luxury Volvo buses to boost tourism in the scenic Konkan region, the much-awaited bus service has yet to commence.

With most of the MTDC resorts in the coastal region reporting full occupancy, it seems MTDC has missed the bus to cash in on the summer vacations by delaying the start of the bus service.

MTDC had purchased five Volvo buses, equipped with special facilities, for Rs 5 crore. They had planned to start a bus service from Pune and Mumbai to the Konkan region so that tourists could enjoy the scenic beauty of the region. The state tourism minister Chhagan Bhujbal had inaugurated the buses on December 6 last year. At that time it was expected that initiative would have a great success during the summer season.

The concept behind the project was to provide luxurious travelling facility to tourists who book a stay at MTDC resorts all over the Konkan region. It was planned that the out of these five buses, three would operate from Mumbai, while two would ply from Pune. But, with the proposed project hitting a bottleneck, even some MTDC officials are expressing surprise over the delay.

“As the school examinations have just concluded, we are getting a good response to our resorts based in all the three districts – Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg — of the Konkan region. It is the right time to start the much-awaited Volvo bus service to tap into the rush during the summer season. But, we are clueless as to why the project has been delayed and when will it begin?” said a senior MTDC official, on condition of anonymity.

“The project is stuck at the Mumbai office and before getting the green signal from the head office, we can not initiate the project,” added the official.

Regional Manager of MTDC Nayna Bondade said, “The tendering procedure to finalise the tour operators is ongoing at our head office.” It is believed that the lack of response from tour operators has put the project in the lurch. When asked when the project will get kick off, Bondade was unable to give specific deadline, but indirectly stated that MTDC may miss the summer season to launch its ambitious project.

MTDC has several resorts situated at scenic beaches like Ganpatipule, Tarkarli, Vengurla and Harihareshwar in the konkan region. Bookings at all these resorts are reporting full occupancy on the weekends till the first week of June. Despite several attempts Kishori Gadre, General Manager at MTDC, was not available for comment.

Since there is no direct train or bus connectivity from both Pune and Mumbai to MTDC resorts in Konkan, the project was envisaged at minimising travel constraints to travellers. But, travellers waiting for the start of special Volvo buses are expressing unhappiness over the project not taking off.

“MTDC’s Tarkarli beach resort is excellent. The only problem is of connectivity. Through private buses one can reach Kankavli, but the buses arrive at an odd hour at night. From Kankavli there is a MSRTC bus at around 6 am, which takes you to Malvan from where one has to hire an auto rickshaw to reach the resort, which is an eight kilometre journey from the Malvan auto stand. To avoid the inconvenience, MTDC should commence the bus service soon,” said Pravin Kulkarni, a city-based businessman who recently visited Tarkarli.

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