Will cover 19 tour-points, more to be identified in South; four launched, six more to be added
PANJIM: After a wait of 18 months, the Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) buses – introduced with an aim to boost tourist arrivals – were launched on Saturday with more to join the fleet.
Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) launched the new and swanky sightseeing coach service in association with Pune-based Prasanna Purple Group. The royal red buses will offer tourists sightseeing circuits in and around the capital city, Old Goa, Miramar and Dona Paula to begin with.
The four – two open roof double decker and two single decker buses – will have 19 halts in their circuit. The buses will move from Paryatan Bhavan allowing tourists to see the Panjim Church, Palace of Archbishop, Miramar beach, Goa Science Centre, Dona Paula, Kala Academy, Bhagwan Mahaveer garden, Panjim market, casino point, River cruise point, Goa State Museum and Ribandar Patto circle.
“The sightseeing tours will be a big attraction not only for tourists but locals as well. Such new facilities will give recognition to the State across the world as Goa becomes the first State to introduce the advanced buses,” Tourism Minister Manohar ‘Babu’ Azgaonkar said.
The buses, to operate from 9 am to 6 pm on a regular basis, have a local based multi-lingual running commentary, CCTV surveillance, GPS tracking, trained tour guides, guest relationship executives and more. The agency has proposed two separate routes for the double decker buses and the hydeck buses. Azgaonkar vouched for the safety of the passengers stating, “We will ensure safety and convenience of the passengers.”
GTDC Chairman Nilesh Cabral said such interesting initiatives will make Goa a family holiday destination. He urged private tour operators to join hands with GTDC and invest in such projects. “Do not feel threatened with the HOHO buses. It will not let their business down. The private operators are requested to join hands with us and they can even invest in it,” he stated.
Prasanna Purple justified the delay in launching the bus service stating it took one and half year to amend the Motor Vehicles Act for a new-design bus. “Our major challenge was to get the new design approved which is why we could not get it registered. The Centre had to amend the MVA and one-and-half year later, we are able to bring the buses on road,” Group MD Prasanna Patwardhan told the media.
Initially four buses have been deployed and another six will be added on the fleet. Tourists can avail of the tours by taking a one or two day pass and multiple options for families and groups. The fares are Rs 300 per head as launch offer.