Indian govt. to focus on domestic tourists to build national cruise culture

Published on : Thursday, November 30, 2017

VishakhapatnamThe Indian government is planning to ride on a potential wave of domestic tourists from places like Mumbai, Cochin and Vishakhapatnam to give a leg up to India’s fledgling cruise tourism.

Sources said the shipping ministry sees “huge potential in the domestic market” rather than international cruise tourists and ships.

“India can see a boom in cruise only through domestic cruise. International cruise may not come on major scale,” said a government official.

Union shipping minister Nitin Gadkari had mooted the idea of reviving cruise tourism in India which has the potential to generate “employment for over two lakh people” and earn “revenues of Rs 35,000 crore”.

Back in 2008, India had a “Cruise Shipping Policy” when its share in the international cruise tourism industry was two per cent. As of 2016-17, only 0.5 per cent of total cruise tourists came to India and 70 ships docked at the India ports.

The minister plans to take cruise liner traffic to 700 a year and grow the passenger count to 1.5 million by 2031-32

The official said that in the wake of limited supply of cruise ships, India must target domestic cruise shipping first to build the “cruise culture”.

India has a coast line of 7,500 kilometers with various cities as potential tourist spots. While Mumbai is projected to be a “cruise hub,” the Centre sees other cities like Cochin as promising destinations.

“Mumbai is the main hub for local market… But, we will also develop others,” the official said adding, “Cochin has the potential… Vishakhapatnam has potential in the long run”.

According to Bermello and Ajamil, the consulting firm appointed by government for cruise tourism, India has the potential to see passenger count of 4 million and ship count of 955.

The shipping ministry has also decided to increase the number of dock-days permitted from one to three. Foreign flag vessels carrying passengers have also been allowed to call at Indian ports without securing a licence from the director general of shipping till February 2024.

“First, it is important to develop a cruise culture in India,” the official said adding, “International tourists will keep coming slowly, but the target should be the local market”.

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