India is exploring cruise tourism potential along its long coast.
Rashmi Verma, Tourism Secretary, said: “A committee has been set up with the Shipping Secretary and I as co-chairs to promote cruise tourism. We have recently received a report from an international consultant, who is also a member of the committee. We are in the process of the finalising it.”
She said some of the recommendations are related to berthing space for the cruiseliners, infrastructure at the ports, and tax concessions to cruiseliners.
According to the cruise industry outlook for 2018, 27.2 million tourists are expected to set sail, 1.4 million more than last year. Currently, port trusts in three cities — Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi — have been allotted funds to develop berthing facilities for cruiseliners. “The reason for selecting these three cites is that there is some infrastructure there already. We are starting with these ports and will explore more ports in the days to come, ” she said.
“A large number of Indians are now looking for cruise experiences. But currently they have to fly to Singapore or Dubai to get on a cruise,” Verma said.
India, which has a huge coastline, suffers from lack of facilities, an industry expert said.
“Once ports in India get the facilities similar to those at airports, cruise tourism will surely take off. Apart from that, security of ships and that of passengers is an issue that needs attention,” said Romil Pant, Senior Vice-President, Thomas Cook.
Once this segment gets moving, it is expected to see a growth of 50 per cent year-on-year, he added.