“Cruise Tourism is one of the fastest growing components of the leisure industry worldwide. Thirty million passengers are expected to travel on cruise during 2019 world over.
India, which has tremendous potential to become a global hub for cruise tourism in the years to come, has lately created a buzz all over the world by bringing cruise tourism to the centre stage of India Tourism. The policy initiatives and bold reforms made by the Central Government over the last four years have instilled tremendous energy and optimism among the stakeholders of cruise tourism. Ministry of Shipping and Tourism Ministry have jointly brought about series of initiatives viz constitution of task force; operationalizing standard operating procedures; extension of e-visa policy to five major sea ports; setting up of immigration counters at these ports; exemption for e-visa cruise tourists from biometric enrolment; reduction of port charges; no levy on priority, ousting and shifting charges for berthing; preferential berthing to home port cruises; setting up of port level facilitation committees; and relaxation of cabotage rule.
The aforesaid initiatives have started paying dividends and India tourism is upbeat about this turn around. Number of cruise ships calling at Indian Ports are on the rise. ‘Costa Neoclassica’ commenced cruising using home ports. ‘Angriya’ became the first Indian domestic cruise liner and ‘Jalesh cruises’ which started operations in April this year, is India’s first multi destination cruise line, customized for domestic travellers and also for foreigners visiting India. The formation of India Cruise Line Association (InCLA) has brought together all stakeholders on a common platform to address issues related to cruise sector in the country.
India has set a very ambitious target of attracting 4 million cruise travellers by 2040 from the present 0.2 million. To meet this challenge, all stakeholders need to play their roles under a common road map and integrated strategy for the Country. Ministry of Tourism has to be the umbrella organisation and is required to lead from the front, with the assistance of all related Ministries, State Governments, Port Authorities and Cruise industry. Union Government must accelerate building of cruise infrastructure, simplify rules & procedures, implement SOPs both in letter and spirit, resolve the issues of ‘white paper’ submitted by InCLA, bring in seamless and customer friendly practices at the port level and provide necessary relief in taxation. Cruise industry has to equally respond, by ensuring larger number of cruise vessels making calls at Indian sea ports, augmenting home port cruising, coordinating with Government and Port Authorities and promoting cruise tourism aggressively to attract domestic travellers.”
Addressed at the panel session on ‘Future of Cruise Tourism’ at Today’s Traveller Summit 2019 at New Delhi on 29th July.