Minister of state for tourism (independent charge) KJ Alphons, has said that the Ministry of Shipping has brought out a vision document to develop India as a cruise shipping destination. It aims to develop supporting infrastructure for cruise tourism at ports, with a focus on developing the domestic cruise industry through policy supports, incentives and port infrastructure development.
Also, the Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Tourism have jointly appointed the consortium of three expert companies to prepare an action plan to this end. The report submitted by the committee recommends, among other measures, simplifying the procedures for immigration and custom clearances, tax incentives to cruise industry, capacity building, marketing and creation of cruise related infrastructure at the ports.
In the year 2017-18, 139 cruise ships with a total of 1,62,660 cruise passengers visited India at six major ports, namely, Mumbai Port, Mormugao Port, New Mangalore Port, Cochin Port, Chennai Port and Kolkata Port. As per the estimates given by the consultant in the report for various scenarios in case of low growth, mid growth and high growth, cruise ship calls in the country are estimated to be 219, 579 and 955 respectively by the year 2042-43.
According to New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), 22 cruise vessels with 24,258 passengers visited the port during the year 2017-18. This year 36 vessels with 40,000 passengers are expected (as per the cruise schedule).
New Mangalore Port Trust occupies the first rank in India on the cleanliness index among 13 major ports of the country. The assessment was done by an independent consultant, Quality Council of India (QCI) appointed by the Ministry of Shipping under Swachh Bharat Mission. To improve the cruise tourism in the region, NMPT will provide all assistance to the tour operators and the tourism department of the state, he said.
Speaking about Mangalore Port, Chairman, NMPT, MT Krishna Babu said the port handled 42.06 million metric tonnes (MMT) of cargo during the year 2017-18, registering a growth of 5.28%. Up to July 30 this year (2018-19), the port has handled 13.05 MMT of cargo, registering a growth of 7.63%.
He has held a series of meetings with the representatives of the trade unions in the port and conveyed the necessity to eliminate unhealthy practices of speed money and notional gangs which hampers the growth of the port and diverts non-captive cargo to competing ports like Kattupalli, Krishnapatnam, Ennore, and Chennai. In other initiatives in this direction, the NMPT business development team will soon embark on regular visits to these potential shippers, to attract greater volumes of cargo to the port.