Published on : Wednesday, June 28, 2017
The government of India is working on a cruise tourism policy for increasing the cruise liner traffic to India 10-fold to 700 vessels a year. The plan was by minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari.
To quote Gadkari, “Cruise tourism can be India’s economic growth engine and it has vast untapped potential. In a month, shipping ministry in collaboration with tourism ministry is going to bring India’s first cruise tourism policy.”
Five major ports—Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Chennai and Kochi will be developed as cruise hubs to start with.
This is expected to turn India into a hot spot of cruise tourism by addressing shortcomings that have hindered the sector’s growth earlier. Shortcomings include restrictions on movement of foreign liners. Cruise operators are also put off by taxes that are levied on vessels based on tonnage rather than the number of passengers on board. Also, Indian ports and terminals are not thought of being passenger-friendly.
The new policy will aim at developing world-class port berths for cruise ships and simplifying security and immigration procedures for tourists. A cruise ship refurbishment industry will be developed in Goa and West Bengal to generate employment. A final policy will be unveiled next month after it gets Cabinet approval, and an action plan will be in place in three months.
“India has a strategic geographical advantage and I have always believed that we need to exploit this position to the fullest. Government initiating a cruise tourism policy will definitely be a game changer,” said Varun Chadha, chief operating officer at TIRUN, a cruise travel firm and exclusive India representative of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “It will bring the sector into focus and get investment for building infrastructure across major port towns and also lead to huge employment.”
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