Cruising from Indian shores to get easier and more exciting

Cruising from Indian shores to get easier and more exciting

Cruising from Indian shores is likely to get a lot more exciting in the near future.

A global consultant appointed by the Union shipping ministry to prepare an action plan for the development of cruise tourism in India has zeroed down on five probable international cruise circuits originating from here. These circuits include India-Dubai, Cochin-Colombo-Male-Seychelles, and India-Malaysia. Currently, Indians mostly have to go to South Asian countries such as Singapore or the Mediterranean to experience ocean cruises in luxury liners.

“Developing these circuits can give a big fillip to cruise tourism in the country. A final call on which circuits should be taken up for development on a priority will be taken after the consultants submit their final report next month,” said a source.  A cruise originating from India can give boost to the economy by generating substantial employment and revenue from passengers. The average employment on a cruise ship is one job for every three to four passengers.

“Home porting generates substantial employment as a vessel with a capacity of 3,000 passengers using Indian ports as home ports can generate direct employment of approximately 1,000 jobs,” said an official of the shipping ministry. Indian ports are primarily ports of call for cruise lines. In 2015-16, cruise vessels made 128 calls at five major ports — Mumbai, Cochin, Goa, New Mangalore and Chennai. In 2016-17, about 1.22 lakh cruise passengers visited India, which is 0.5 % of the global share, show ministry figures.

Presently, while foreign cruise ships are allowed only in Mumbai, Chennai and Cochin, domestic operators offer river cruises on the Brahmaputra and Ganga, which are a part of the National Waterway 1 & 2. Domestic cruise ships also ply in Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshwadeep.

Despite having a 7,500-kilometre coastline, cruise tourism in the country is still at a nascent stage. Inadequate infrastructure and taxation hurdles have deterred operators from plying from Indian shores. Several initiatives have been taken by the government to promote cruise tourism in the last year, including allowing foreign flag vessels carrying passengers to call at Indian ports without obtaining licence from director general (shipping) till February 2024.

Besides, e-visa facility has also been extended to five ports.


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