If budget tourists are planning a trip to Rajasthan this winter and would like to stay at Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation hotels, better be prepared for minimal services.
The reason being that RTDC, which has a sanctioned staff of 1473, is now functioning with a skeletal staff of about 500.
In February this year, the staff was about 1050, which came down to 500 after many of them were transferred to other departments, says Tej Singh Rathore, president of RTDC Employees Union.
So the RTDC reservation and enquiry centre at Jaipur’s main railway station functions only for some hours. Earlier it used to function 24 hours, especially during the tourist season.
It is now manned by a lone RTDC staff, then by a tourism department staff. The centre closes down by 5 pm. It doesn’t function during holidays and weekends.
There has been a 10 percent decline in tourist bookings as compared to last year around the same time in August, says Rathore.
Moreover the staff who have been retained have been given duties, which they are unable to perform satisfactorily.
“So how are we going to expect tourists this season at our units? Especially the RTDC hotels Gangaur, Teej, Swagat in Jaipur are not in full functioning mode,” he says.
But RTDC officials say the transferring of staff has been done as many of RTDC hotels are located in places where they have lost their relevance today.
Officials say today the scenario has changed completely. Fast running cars don’t stop at midways (hotels) on the highways. Smooth highways, new flyovers have minimized the number of stops for travellers.Travel time is lesser and hence lesser tourists stay at these units.
Moreover there are multiple private players and tough competition. RTDC no longer has monopoly in hotel business. Many of these RTDC units have outrun their utility, suffering losses, hence the government has plans to either close them down or hand them over to private players. A restructuring of the units is definitely needed, say officials.
But of course, Rajasthan has fair number of private budget hotels, which tourists can book well in advance. And the services they provide are equally satisfying as the government hotels, say tour operators.