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Cruise Tourism Now on VPT's Radar
September 21, 2015
Cruise Tourism Now on VPT's Radar

21 September 2015

Visakhapatnam: Tourists dropping anchor in Vizag may soon be able to cruise the high seas, if the Visakhapatnam Port Trust has its way. VPT, which is the second largest major port on the east coast, is now planning to give a fillip to cruise tourism in the city by offering its waterfront facilities on lease to private cruise tour operators.

With number of international travellers landing in Vizag increasing by nearly 96% in the first five months of the current fiscal, VPT feels that offering one of its waterfront facilities to cruise operators will boost the city's tourism potential. Sources said that VPT is expected to float tenders inviting private cruise tourism operators to Vizag by next week.

As part of the plan, VPT is planning to extend the slipway near the Fishing Harbour by around 80 metres at an estimated cost of nearly Rs 5 crore and will be inviting private cruise operators to ply their services from Vizag to places such as Bheemili, Kakinada and other private resorts mushrooming along the coast in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts, said sources.

The private cruise tourism operators, on the other hand, will have to invest in supplying cruise vessels or boats for ferrying tourists along the Bay of Bengal. APTDC already runs a smaller boat giving tourists a view of the Vizag beachfront by venturing nearly a kilometre into the sea.

"Initially, we are hoping that private cruise operators will bring in smaller vessels with a capacity of 12-14 people and providing facilities such as a dinner at sea or a cruise towards the coastal town of Bheemili or Kakinada. These cruise tours can be offered to corporate groups or even common people, who would want to experience an outing on the sea. VPT will be offering jetty and parking facility for the cruise operators," said a senior VPT official.

Even though oceanography experts point out that the waters along the Bay of Bengal are much rougher than the Arabian Sea, the official said, "Some private operators, who have expressed interest, have pointed out that stabilising equipment for the boats will be brought in so that tourists won't feel the impact of the choppy seas."

"If VPT can provide space for a clean terminal, then the cruise operators can surely start operations from the city. Cleanliness is the most important aspect if we want to lure a large number of international tourists to hop on board cruise vessels," said a shipping industry professional.

Meanwhile, an oceanography expert said, "Vizag faces the impact of the southwest monsoon between June and September and the northeast monsoon during October to December. The perfect weather for Vizag, when the waters are relatively calm, is between mid December and late April. The winds are too high during May and are not favourable for venturing out into the sea."