In­dia to har­bour cruise pol­icy

Eye­ing the un­tapped po­ten­tial of cruise tourism, the govern­ment has taken earnest steps to de­velop and pro­mote this seg­ment ag­gres­sively. A cruise tourism pol­icy is on the cards to help ease the busi­ness and pro­pel rev­enue for In­dia from this sec­tor as we

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The Min­istry of Tourism (MOT), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Min­istry of Ship­ping (MOS), is work­ing on a fast track mode to bring out a pol­icy pro­mot­ing cruise tourism in In­dia. Rashmi

Verma, Sec­re­tary-Tourism, Govern­ment of In­dia, in­forms that in the year 2016-2017, a to­tal of 158 cruise ships visited In­dia over 103 ships in 201314. Also, the num­ber of cruise pas­sen­gers dis­em­bark­ing in In­dia in­creased from 80,645 in 2013-14 to 191,725 cruise pas­sen­gers in 2016-17. With this pol­icy ini­tia­tive, the num­ber of cruise ves­sels vis­it­ing In­dia is ex­pected to go up to 700. Ma­hesh Sharma, Tourism Min­is­ter, Govern­ment of In­dia, says, “With a 7500-km­long coast­line, In­dia has taken some key steps to pro­mote cruise tourism, which in­cludes re­lax­ation of poli­cies and rop­ing in global con­sul­tants. Cruise tourism is a high-end lux­ury tourist seg­ment and lo­cal econ­omy also gains from it.” He adds that as per the es­ti­mates in a draft re­port by con­sul­tants, for var­i­ous sce­nar­ios in case of low growth, mid growth and high growth, the num­ber of cruise pas­sen­gers is likely to be 4.72 lakh, 27.18 lakh and 39.41 lakh, re­spec­tively, by the year 2042-2043 and the num­ber of cruise ships could go up to 955 by 2042-2043.

A work­shop was or­gan­ised re­cently where rep­re­sen­ta­tives from MOT, MOS, Bu­reau of Im­mi­gra­tion, Cen­tral Industrial Se­cu­rity Force (CISF) and De­part­ment of Rev­enue (Cus­toms) and in­ter­na­tional con­sul­tants, etc., came to­gether. Verma says, “The work­shop be­tween the two min­istries was a land­mark event in pro­mo­tion of cruise tourism in In­dia. We have sanc­tioned projects in Tamil Nadu, Ker­ala and Goa for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment at the ports. We also need to pro­mote river cruis­ing.” List­ing out the ini­tia­tives al­ready be­ing taken to pro­mote cruise tourism, Nitin Gad­kari, Min­is­ter of Ship­ping, Govern­ment of In­dia, in­formed that mod­ern cruise ter­mi­nals are be­ing de­vel­oped at five ma­jor ports — Mum­bai, Goa, Man­ga­lore, Chennai and Kochi, which will in­clude hos­pi­tal­ity, re­tail shop­ping and restau­rants. As many as 200 mi­nor ports will also de­velop jet­ties for easy trans­porta­tion of cruise pas­sen­gers. “We of­fer e-visa fa­cil­i­ties at all ma­jor ports; and have in­tro­duced e-land­ing card for the con­ve­nience of cruise pas­sen­gers among other ini­tia­tives.” Gad­kari also in­formed that the trans­porta­tion po­ten­tial of 111 in­land wa­ter­ways will also be tapped. Work will be­gin by the end of this year to de­velop 10 of these 111 in­land wa­ter­ways while work is al­ready in progress in Ganga and Brahma­pu­tra.

Ships are now al­lowed to stay for three days, up from the 24 hours des­ig­nated ear­lier; and rules have been sim­pli­fied. Eas­ier stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure for cruise op­er­a­tions in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple agen­cies has al­ready been is­sued. The govern­ment has al­lowed for­eign flag ves­sels to call at In­dian ports with­out se­cur­ing a li­cence from the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Ship­ping till Fe­bru­ary 5, 2024. Also, ma­jor ports will of­fer a min­i­mum of 30 per cent re­bate across the board on all ves­sel-re­lated charges for cruise ship­ping and not levy any pri­or­ity fee. In­cen­tives to push cruise lin­ers to make ma­jor ports as home ports in­clude a re­bate of 25 per cent in ves­sel charges, add to the ex­ist­ing 40 per cent dis­count for coastal ves­sels.

Rashmi Verma Sec­re­tary-Tourism Govern­ment of In­dia Ma­hesh Sharma Tourism Min­is­ter Govern­ment of In­dia

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