“India offers tremendous opportunities to develop and promote cruise tourism within and outside the country”, said Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Shipping Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya.
The Minister was briefing the media onboard the Costa Victoria, a foreign cruise ship having capacity of carrying 2400 passengers, that has arrived at the Mumbai port today.
The Minister said, cruise tourism can become a major source of employment because of its labour-intensive nature. Mr Mandaviya remarked that, today 2.30 lakh Indian seafarers are serving in the global shipping industry. Hence, the Centre is facilitating growth in this sector by way of creating synergy between the various stakeholders of this industry like cruise companies, tour operators immigration and customs department and so on, said the Minister.
Stating that the number of foreign cruises home-porting in India has significantly gone up in the past few years, Mr Mandaviya added, the Union Government has taken measures to attract foreign cruises to the country. Guaranteed berths to cruise ships, removal of ousting charges, e-visa and visa on arrival facilities, exemption of biometrics for 3 years for ease of travel, single e-landing card, upgradation and modernization of all cruise terminals have boosted the industry.
The Minister said, the Centre is focusing on developing both coastal as well as inland waterways so that cruise tourism can thrive well. The Government has also identified tourist circuits for this purpose.
Recently, it was announced that Mumbai Maiden cruise will start services between Mumbai – Surat followed by other coastal cities in Maharashtra, Tarkarli, Murud Janjira and Ganpatipule which are being seen as major destinations for development of cruise tourism.
The Chairman of Mumbai Port Trust, Mr Sanjay Bhatia was also present on the occasion. He informed, coastal traffic in Indian ports have significantly increased in the last four years.