India has been a centre of tourist attraction from time immemorial. Some tourists visit to study the history of India while others come just to relax, to enjoy the Indian summer and spicy food and visit places of tourist interest. Tourism is fast turning out to be a source of revenue for the government and IRCTC, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, which was introduced as a subsidiary of Indian Railways to deal with catering, online booking and tourism, takes care of the needs of the people helping them travel comfortably in Indian trains.
The catering is an inevitable part of Indian Railways. Before the pantry cars were introduced in the trains, it was a great problem to get food on time for the passengers and they had to stay without food for a long time. With the addition of pantry cars to the trains the passengers could get lunch and dinner at proper time and also breakfast and evening snacks. Now IRCTC caters only for a few trains. It also operates food plazas in many stations and cafeteria in many Indian ministries and institutes.
The online booking is the major attraction of IRCTC. By logging on to the website, you can check the available trains, their routes and timings, seat availability, prices of tickets and get any other information you want. When you get the train of your requirements, you can book tickets online, get the reservation confirmed and take a print out of the E-ticket. All this is possible within a few seconds and that too sitting comfortably at your home or office. You can also book tickets online and get the proper ticket by post, which is called I-ticket.
IRCTC has recently launched a loyalty programme for frequent travelers called 'Shubh Yatra' under which they can book tickets for a whole year by paying an annual fee and get discounts. Furthermore, it has done a lot to boost tourism in India by organizing tourist packages, both budget and deluxe packages. 'Bharat Darshan' is a budget package which covers important tourist spots in India. In luxury tourism packages, special luxury trains with all possible luxuries fit for a king are offered for foreign tourists. There are also packages for pilgrims and adventurers.
Nowadays, IRCTC is encouraging paperless tickets by allowing E-tickets submission in the electronic mode on mobile phones, laptops and iPads, instead of taking a printout. No doubt, it has today grown up to be the largest and fastest e-commerce website in Asia-Pacific and has won many awards for its excellent service.