The Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the Indian government is committed to creating the right environment for promoting cruise tourism in the country.
Speaking at Dawn of Cruise Tourism in India - an international conference organized by the Shipping Ministry at Mumbai Port today, he said that India has a huge potential of hosting nearly 40 lakh cruise tourists. Given the right impetus, the number of tourist ships visiting India can go up from the present 158 to about 955 per year.
The Union Minister expressed confidence that the cruise tourism sector would be a game-changer for domestic as well as international travellers. The sector is estimated to have a revenue potential close to INR 35,000 crore (USD 5.48 billion), and is expected to create over 2,50,000 jobs .Shri Gadkari also released three reports - “Road Map for Sea Cruise Tourism”, “Mumbai Port SOP for Cruise Operations” and “Cruise Terminals in India” These are aimed at bringing uniformity in procedural formalities to revolutionize the cruise tourism in India.
Shri Gadkari informed that the Ministry of Shipping has already embarked upon reforms to boost cruise tourism . Absence of world class infrastructure and lack of defined procedures for various government departments/agencies for dealing with cruise vessels and tourists have been identified as major hurdles in the growth of cruise tourism.
To address this, a task force comprising all relevant agencies like port, immigration, customs, port health authorities and security agencies was formed to study the present environment and procedures. A global consultant was hired to bring about a holistic approach and suggest the way forward.
The key items that the studies have identified for success of cruise tourism include creating and developing the right market atmosphere, easy immigration process , security procedures that do not impede movement, taxation regime that allows for a platform for growth, Customs & Duties procedures that do not tie the industry, internationally comparable tariffs, port and tourism infrastructure that meets the needs of the cruise lines and visitors today and tomorrow.
Various steps have already been taken for growth of cruise tourism. These include finalization of SoPs for handling cruise vessels and passengers, allowing foreign flag vessels carrying passengers to call at Indian ports without obtaining license from DG (Shipping), Constitution of Port-level Committees to address manpower, coordination and logistics issues .