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Vasan Sees Big Potential For Cruise Shipping
November 04, 2011
Vasan Sees Big Potential For Cruise Shipping


04 November 2011

The number of cruise ships which called at Indian ports rose to 129 in 2010-11, from 55 in 2003-04, while the number of cruise passengers have gone up to 1,00,000 in 2010-11 from 34,372 in 2003-04, minister of shipping V K Vasan said in Kochi today.

Addressing a meeting of the consultative committee of the ministry of shipping, Vasan said, with support from the ministry of shipping and incentives from the ministry of tourism, cruise shipping will emerge as a money spinner for the economy.

''Cruise shipping is an important and growing component of the leisure industry worldwide. It contributes directly and indirectly to the economy of the country concerned. This sector has a number of spin-off effects in service sector,'' he said.

Besides generating revenue from passenger fares, port charges, etc, cruise shipping also promotes many industries like handicraft, guide service and catering, etc, and earns valuable foreign exchange for the country, he pointed out.

However, he said cruise tourism should be made more affordable and services increased in order to realise its full potential.

He said with near saturation in world's most favorite cruising areas like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, India has a tremendous opportunity to position herself as a new destination for cruise tourism. Despite inherent advantages and tremendous potential of 'cruise shipping' sector, the country has not realised its full potential compared to countries in Latin America and South East Asia in this segment, he added.

He also called for a special marketing strategy and focused promotion of cruise industry in the country.

The cruise shipping policy, approved by the government in 2008, provides for relaxation of cabotage for coastal runs by foreign flagships, conducive fiscal regime and development of facilities at ports. It also envisages rail, road, air and metro connectivity. Quick and hassle free immigration and custom clearance for the tourist has also been emphasised in this policy, the minister pointed out.

A steering committee headed by secretary (shipping) and comprising senior officers of shipping and tourism ministries has, meanwhile, identified five major ports, namely Goa, Chennai, Cochin, Mumbai and Mangalore, for development of cruise terminals. The committee has also recommended inclusion of travel by river cruise and coastal runs of cruise ships under LTC facilities provided for government employees.

He said the government is addressing all issues concerned with the development of cruise shipping in the country like creating port infrastructure, cruise terminals, providing financial incentives and reducing tax burdens, and establishing an institutional framework for holistic development of cruise shipping.

Ports are also earmarking funds from their own resources for development of cruise related Infrastructure. Dedicated cruise vessel facility is currently available at Chennai, New Mangalore, Kochi, Mumbai and VOC Port at Tuticorin. Cruise terminals are also being developed at other ports like Murmagao and Kolkata.

National waterways also offer day cruise facilities as well as long distance cruises. Presently, regular river cruises are operative on Kolkata-Varanasi, Kolkata-Murshidabd, Kolkata-Semaria and Sunderbans.