Exploring River Cruise Tourism
Union Minister for Ports, Shipping & Waterways inaugurated the 1st Incredible India International Cruise Conference (IIICC) 2022 in Mumbai. It has jointly been organized by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Government of India and FICCI. The conference provided a platform for discussions on strategies for developing India as a cruise hub, policy initiatives, and port infrastructure, the potential of river cruise tourism, the role of technology in the post-pandemic world, and more.
To attract the tourists in India the minister stressed the vast potential of the river cruise industry in the country. Aligning in the direction, he also invited domestic and international tourists and gave slogan ‘Come, Cruise in India.’ 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.
The tourism sector is one of the most vibrant and fast-growing sectors. The Government has currently been working towards a comprehensive Indian National Tourism Policy and cruise tourism will be a priority sector. With Government initiatives like the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan, tourism-related infrastructure is also being developed with a focus on shipping, river tourism, and forest and wildlife tourism.
There are around 150 conferences planned at various places in the G-20 countries that would help in tapping the cruise tourism potential of India. These platforms could be used for showcasing the tourism potential in India. Further, the promotion of coastal tourism through Beach tourism, Lighthouse tourism, and Cruise tourism will also help communities such as fishing communities to find other livelihood opportunities and supplement their existing income.
Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy also said that under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, the Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned ten projects under coastal thematic circuits worth Rs. 648.80 crore across various States / Union Territories. Furthermore, the government has also sanctioned 228.61 crores for various projects on developing cruise terminals and related infrastructure at major ports under the ”Assistance to Central Agencies for Tourism Infrastructure Development” scheme.
India aims to increase cruise passenger traffic from 0.4 million at present to 4 million. The 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 the cruise tourism industry in the country, the Centre 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, said the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
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 of about ₹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.
‘Cruise Tourism’ is one of the fastest growing and vibrant components worldwide and given India’s beautiful and vast coastline with undisturbed idyllic islands, virgin forests and cultural heritage, there is a tremendous potential in making it a magnificent destination for cruise tourism. The vision of the government is to make India a significant player in the global cruise market, for both river and ocean cruises. River cruises have a significant and untapped potential. It is time India takes up cruise tourism in a big way.