Sarbananda Sonowal, the country’s union minister for ports, shipping, and waterways, mentioned on Thursday that cruise traffic in India will be able to grow 10 times over the next decade. This is because of the higher disposable incomes and the country’s growing economy. Two years following the COVID-19-induced slowdown, the global cruise shipping business has started staging its comeback.
Sonowal was speaking to the media virtually at a Mumbai Port Authority event, meant to promote cruise shipping. He added that the cruise business has grown 35% year-on-year in 2018-19 to 0.4 million. About 200 vessels had visited India during that period. The industry as a whole, however, suffered a financial setback due to the raging pandemic and business had to be immediately halted.
Positive traction was observed after the pandemic. Many inquiries have also been received from global cruise operators, showing their desire to operate in the sea and the river segments.
Under 2021’s Maritime Policy, it was planned to develop the cruise industry around five themes – ayurvedic and wellness, pilgrimage, island tourism, heritage, and regional international circuit. The ministry plans on establishing cruise hubs at Kolkata, Chennai, Andaman, and Vizag on Goa, New Mangalore, the East Coast, and Mumbai, Kochi, and Lakshadweep.
The policy will incentivize global cruise liners to make our country their home ports. The government will offer a single rate at ports, get rid of cabotage, and ousting charges for foreign vessels. They are likely to provide discounts that range from 2% to 67%. When it comes to E-visa, that too will be implemented at ports. Besides, the ports in Chennai, Andaman, and Vizag are going to be well connected with Goa to appeal to and host maximum tourists.
It is expected that the Mumbai International cruise terminal will be commissioned by July 2024. It will have the capacity to handle 200 vessels and one million passengers. It is going to cost approximately Rs 495 crore, of which about Rs 300 crore is going to be incurred by the Mumbai Port Authority. The rest would be incurred by private operators.
Reference: Financial Express