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1st Incredible India International Cruise Conference 2022 gets underway in Mumbai

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Cruise Tourism in India has potential to grow 10 fold says Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal

MUMBAI : Union Minister for Ports, Shipping & Waterways Shri Sarbananda Sonowal has asserted that  Indian cruise market has the potential to grow 10 folds over the next decade, driven by rising demand and disposable incomes. “The government of India realizes this potential and is determined to position India as a global cruise hub with state-of-art infrastructure for both ocean and river cruises”, he said after inaugurating the 1st Incredible India International Cruise Conference 2022 in Mumbai

Stating that India is a magnificent cruise destination, Shri Sonowal said several attractions of India along its 7,500 km long coastline and vast river systems are yet to be unveiled to the world.  He said the global players have evinced a keen interest in promoting cruise tourism in India, and with the development of right infrastructure and adoption of modern technology, India will certainly become one of the top tourism destinations in the world. 

Advisory Panel being set up to help the Task Force on Cruise Tourism

Shri Sonowal stated that the Government has set up a Task Force headed by the Secretary, Tourism and Secretary, Shipping for development of cruise tourism.  The Minister announced the setting up of a high level Advisory Committee, comprising national and international experts, to help the Task Force in creating an enabling eco-system for development of cruise tourism in the country.

Invoking Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Shri Sonowal said ‘Transformation is possible through transportation and for that we need to leverage technology’. Emphasising on the importance of Ports, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had said that Port led development can help in developing a comprehensive eco-system of transport and tourism especially in terms of cruise tourism.

Elaborating the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Minister of State, Shri Shripad Naik said ‘Four theme based coastal destination circuits such as Gujarat Pilgrimage tours, West Coast – Cultural and scenic tours, South Coast – Ayurvedic wellness tours and East Coast – Heritage tourism have been developed to activate cruise demand. ‘Lighthouse and Island development is also being undertaken to attract Coastal tourists’ he added. He further said River cruise or Inland cruise is another potential component  of cruise tourism that could be explored.

Secretary Port and Shipping Shri Sanjiv Ranjan said, post pandemic the tourism sector in India is growing with resurgence and cruise tourism has registered a 35% year-on-year growth.  He said the Government of India has prepared the Maritime Vision Document 2030 with focus on heritage tourism,Ayurveda tourism,coastal tourism,river cruise tourism etc.  He said new business opportunities for global cruise liners as well as start-ups were discussed in detail at the stakeholders meeting in the morning.

Government of India initiatives

India aims to increase cruise passenger traffic from 0.4 million at present to 4 million. Economic potential of Cruise tourism is expected to go up from USD 110 mn to USD 5.5 bn in the years to come.  In order to boost cruise tourism industry in the country, Government of India has taken several initiatives including infrastructure upgradation, rationalisation of port fees, removing ousting charges, granting priority berthing to cruise ships, providing e-visa facilities etc.

Upgradation and modernisation are being carried out at seven major ports in the country including the flagship New International Cruise terminal coming up in Mumbai with a total cost about Rs 495 crores.  The iconic sea cruise terminal coming up at BPX-Indira Dock, is expected to be commissioned by July 2024. The terminal will have a capacity of handling 200 ships and 1 million passengers per annum. Similar infrastructure upgradation is taking place in Goa, New Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata. ‘

Lays Foundation Stone for Mumbai Port Authority’s  3rd Chemical Berth at Pir Pau

At the inaugural session, Union Minister Shri Sonowal and Shri Naik  laid the foundation stone for the third Chemical Berth at Pir Pau Jetty of Mumbai Port Authority to handle chemicals including LPG.  The berth will have a rated capacity of 2 mtpa and cater to very large gas carriers and tankers up to 72,500 displacement tonnage.  It will be equipped with latest safety standards under OISD norms.

Inauguration of Kelshi Lighthouse in Ratnagiri district

Kelshi Lighthouse in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra was also remotely inaugurated at the conference.  The new light house bridges the 85 km gap between Nanwell Point Lighthouse in Raigad District and Tolkeshwar Lighthouse in Ratnagiri District   ensuring safety of local fishermen community during day and night. 

World’s longest ropeway system to connect Mumbai to Elephanta Caves

Speaking on occasion, Mr. Rajiv Jalota, Chairman, Mumbai Port Authority and Mormugao Port Authority, said the current cruise ecosystem, including the infrastructure and policy environment, is fast-changing and will match the international standards within a reasonable time. He invited international cruise lines to prioritise India in their expansion plans. Please start making plans for business expansion into India”, he said.

The Mumbai Port Authority is also celebrating its 150th anniversary during 2022-2023. The authority would organise a series of 365 events, including water sports, cultural programmes, awareness camps, heritage walks, and marathon run to celebrate the momentous occasion.

Mumbai Port Authority is now aiming to transform from a cargo port to a tourism port. In this regard, an ultra-modern international cruise terminal is under construction, RO Pax and water taxi transportation services are already operational, and Kanhoji Angre Island Tourism will soon be opened to the public. In addition, the world’s longest ropeway system over the sea will connect Mumbai to the Elephanta Caves.

Dr Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, said Vision 2030 has an ambitious target. He also laid out new possibilities in the cruise tourism circuit. The Indian cruise tourism market has the potential to grow ten times over the next decade, given the rising disposable incomes. 

“Heritage, ayurvedic & medical tourism, pilgrimage tourism and North-east circuit happen to link cruise, river, and coastal altogether”, he added.

Mr. Arvind Sawant, Member of Parliament, said there is a huge opportunity for the cruise and commercial operations. 

Mr. M Mathiventhan, Minister for Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, announced that cruise tour operator Cordelia is starting its first journey on June 4 From Chennai. In addition, the minister alluded to the tourism schemes in the state. 

“First time in the history of tourism, we have come up with a new destination development scheme where we pick up destinations and develop it”, adding, “we are also setting up guidelines for adventure sports and all other tourism activities”.

Mr. Rohan Khaunte, Minister of Tourism, Goa, said the state is trying to position itself as a tech-tourism state by attempting to sell sun, sand and software. “Goa has all the potential in port, air, road; we will look at more infrastructure support through the Sagarmala projects”, he said.

Mr. GKV Rao, Director General – Tourism, Government of India, said the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Tourism jointly have been working to identify and create routes and see that SOPs are issued.

Mr. Dhruv Kotak, Chairman-Ports and Shipping, FICCI Committee on Transport Infrastructure and Managing Director, JM Baxi Group, said India is now slated to be the fastest-growing cruise market in the next five years among the top five cruise markets anywhere in the world.

“I think the kind of infrastructure we are seeing now will make the travel experience truly world-class”, he said. 

Mr. Adesh Titarmare, Dy Chairman, Mumbai Port Authority, delivered the Vote of Thanks.

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