Be Ready to Pay King’s Ransom for This Joyride

It may not be able to take you back and forth in time, but the promoters of The Royal Time Machine are hoping that a bus done up like a five-star hotel is all it’ll take to lure tourists in Delhi.

TRTM Tourism Pvt. Ltd will launch its first two buses next week, hoping that the sofa-style seating, heritage decor, and a well-stocked bar will get tourists to fork over up to $165 (Rs6,765) for a six-hour tour of the city.

Chopra declined to give expected profit margins or when the company hoped to see a return on its investment. However, she said she hoped to recoup the Rs5-10 crore invested so far by March 2008.

The tourism ministry said foreign visits increased 13% annually to a record 4.43 million in 2006. The ministry hopes the country will receive 10 million visitors by 2011.

Travel Corporation (India)’s G.V.R. Shastri said luxury bus was a “great concept” and “quite affordable” for the convention goers and other travellers who fall into the segment known as MICE tourism, or Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions. “Nowadays, you’re looking at a segment where they don’t bother about money,” said Shastri.

TRTM has not accepted any booking yet, but Chopra expects the buses to be full on four days of its first week of operations based purely on expressions of interest. TRTM’s buses will run six days a week.