The re-branding of Bangalore Rounds as Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) has yet again failed to catch the imagination of the tourist. The BMTC’s idea was to highlight old and new Bangalore by showing Tipu’s Palace, Vidhana Soudha or Bull Temple along with some big malls. But the idea is neither curated well nor targeted towards the Indian or foreign tourist market.
When TOI took a tour in one of these services that starts from Kempegowda bus station in Majestic and moves to Tipu Sultan’s Palace in KR Market, Lal Bagh, Bull Temple, Gavi Gangadheswara temple, Ramakrishna Mutt, Freedom Park and Vidhana Soudha, the service seemed like just another AC bus service on a long trip from one end of the city to the other. There was no sense of taking in the historic and iconic views of the city. On board was a mix of Indian tourists from other states and some Bangaloreans , just wanting to hop off at their destination.
BMTC launched the second version of its sightseeing bus service in the city on May 30 replacing the old AC buses with new Volvo-make vehicles, adding more starting points across the city and 20 tourist destinations. The trial is on till mid-July . Realizing that to promote the bus, it has to slash the fare from the initial Rs 250, the BMTC reduced it to Rs 150 for adults and Rs 100 for children. Yet, the buses beckon few tourists.
Language is another drawback. The Agarwal family, which took the bus to get an overview of the city, had no clue of the history of each place they had stopped at. For, the brochure inside the bus is in English and Kannada.
“Considering there are many Hindi-speaking citizens in this city, BMTC must have the literature or the crew speak in Hindi too,” one of the family members said.
Above all, the disconnect between the state tourism department and the BMTC in this entire project has ruined its success. “In Bangalore, unlike Delhi, the BMTC and tourism department’s KSTDC seem to be competing with each other rather than working in tandem to showcase the city,” said a BMTC officer.
Sights to see
Kempegowda Bus Station/Majestic Tipu’s Palace Bull temple Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple Lal Bagh Ulsoor lake Gurudwara in Ulsoor Commercial Street St Mary’s Basilica Vidhana Soudha/High Court MG Road Metro station UB City/Bhavan/Cubbon Park Nehru Planetarium Fun World/Snow City Mantri mall Lumbini Garden Iskcon temple Sankey tank Garuda Mall Bangalore Central mall
No global standards
The service has not matched the quality of what one sees in Delhi, New York or Singapore. In Delhi, the service is owned and operated by the tourism department. KSTDC also runs a sightseeing bus. The Worldwide City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off service gives you the best of Singapore, New York, London, Dublin, Barcelona and Rome have buses with roof view, multi lingual and kids commentaries, higher frequency and promotional offers for seasons/ groups/cities. Their outreach through web and other channels is also way above mark.
Service needs promotion
This is a better sightseeing service available at cheaper price. We slashed the rates as a promotional offer. The service has been allowed to take regular citizens willing to go from point to point at ordinary AC fares because there are very few tourists during weekdays. The service needs promotion through private travel portals. It is too early to predict the failure of HOHO as it is still on pilot.
Kumar Pushkar | director (IT), BMTC
Need curated tours
Bangalore is not Mysore—a typical tourist city, not even Delhi. This is a different consumer product to execute and a costly infrastructure. One must curate the tour and tell the story of either the IT Valley or the temple town or Kempe Gowda’s dream. Bangalore has no must-see list, so a curated tour package with a good script and targeted approach is needed.
Arun Pai | director, BANGALORE WALKS
The IT city’s Hop On Hop Off service should be an attempt to showcase its iconic landmarks, sights and sounds that send the message of a historic city with a post-modern outlook. By packing too many destinations in a whirlwind tour in a city known for its traffic woes is not only taxing for the tourist but doesn’t serve the purpose. While the fare is affordable and infrastructure is in place, BMTC just needs to ideate well to bring out the many facets of Bangalore in the tour and have its buses packed too
HOHO fails to produce the Aha! effect