CHENNAI: India has seen a decline in cruise traffic over the last five years on account of inadequate port infrastructure and no domestic liners operating on the Indian coast. Despite this, the Centre hopes to surmount all difficulties and convert the country’s major ports into cruise tourism hub. According to sources, the Union Shipping Ministry has appointed a consultant to evolve proposals to effectively promote cruise tourism. The report, which would be submitted to the Centre next month-end, will focus on information on the potential sites for the home port and related infrastructure development.
Due to practically non-availability of facilities for cruise activity in India, this segment has hitherto remained untapped. India has over 7,500 km of coastline with places of great interest for the cruise guests. The Centre has identified 6 Indian ports (Mumbai, Goa, Cochin, New Mangalore, Tuticorin and Chennai) to be developed as ‘world class cruise terminals’ and to be promoted as ‘integrated Indian cruise circuit.’
During 2014-15, a total of 1,04,125 cruise passengers were handled at five major ports and this increased to 1,25,838 during 2015-16, achieving a growth of 20.85 per cent over the previous year. Upto January (in 2016-17 fiscal), the major ports handled 1,22,093 cruise passengers and during the current fiscal Costa Neo Classica cruise ship has made Mumabi port as home port for seven voyages, says Union Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan.
The Ministry has identified 8 cruise circuits along the National Waterway — 1 (River Ganga) and National Waterway — 2 (River Brahmaputra). The working group constituted by the Ministry has also identified key issues and challenges pertaining to the development of these circuits. It has been planned to incentivise cruise vessels by offering a minimum rebate of 30 per cent on port charges for cruise vessels. Also, there will be no levy or shifting charges for berthing cruise vessels if informed 30 days in advance....