The changing dynamics of cruise tourism has been brought in by new tourism policies to be implemented this month, to tap potentials that will help in earning valuable foreign exchange and job creation.
The Union Tourism Minister, Mahesh Sharma said that cruise tourism will emerge as a game changer in the wake of ‘Action Plan for Development of Cruise Tourism in India’, introduced by Nitin Gadkari.
“Based on today’s consultations with the stakeholders, international consultants and secretaries of Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Shipping, a policy on cruise tourism will be made in a month. Forty-six pc capital investment is required for employment generation in tourism sector. If we will have 700 cruises, we can give employment to 0.25-0.3 million people. They will receive training of skill development,” stated Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari at the ‘Workshop on Action Plan for Development of Cruise Tourism in India’ held in capital city New Delhi.
The policy will envisage norms for immigration, security problems for foreign tourists, hospitality and restaurants. The country attracts nearly 70 cruise vessels a year, which is expected to go up to 700 with this initiative, the minister said.
The government plans to develop western Indian city of Mumbai and southern Indian ports of Chennai, Kochi, Goa and Mangalore into cruise terminals. It has also urged 200 minor and private ports with the state governments to develop passenger terminals for cruise tourists. Gadkari stated, “Capital investment for ports is productive. We are eyeing a profit of INR 70-80 billion from ports this fiscal year. I also urge states to set up task force to see coordination happens on day to day basis.”
According to official reports, “The Government is moving to make India more incredible with INR 15 billion investment for cruise terminals, with an aim to attract 10-fold traffic. The move is expected to add 0.25 million jobs, and also increase India’s share in global cruise tourism from 0.5 pc. It also sits well with the plan to build better beaches.”
The numbers say..
According to latest figures, India has a very small share in world cruise tourism market, as against 23 million passengers globally in 2016. Current estimates indicate that approximately 1,20,000 Indians book a cruise each year. As per Singapore Tourism Board statistics, over 90 pc of India’s cruise tourists travel to that country for cruising experience.
Khalid Gori, Chief Operating Officer, Ark Travels talked about the growing potential of cruise tourism in India, stating, “While travellers over 45 years still represent the core cruise market, in recent years the number of younger people going on cruises has risen continuously. In recent years cruises have become a boom segment of the travel industry. In 2015, around 22 million cruises were undertaken worldwide, so that compared to the previous year the cruise market grew by around three per cent. These are findings of a special survey by the World Travel Monitor, carried out by IPK International and commissioned by ITB Berlin. Particularly for India, we must admit that it’s a great step by Genting Hong Kong to bring its new luxury cruise to India and allowing Indian passengers to go onboard from Mumbai. This marks a landmark shift in the cruise tourism industry for our country. It’s a remarkable feet.”
“The idea is to put India on the global cruise map, both for oceans and rivers, which is seen to create jobs and boost growth. Domestic cruise passengers are estimated to grow to 1.5 million by 2031-32,” commented Nitin Gadkari.
On asking about luxury tourism and Indian cruises, Gori stated,” On our part as a B2B travel agents, Ark Travels being one-of-the leading PSAs for Star Cruises, Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent, Oceania and Silver Sea Cruises, we are catering to the demands coming from all segment of Indian tourists i.e. FITs, Groups, MICE, honeymooners, single travellers, women travellers and young and senior citizens.”
The government intends to promote cruise shipping and related tourism through the coordination of Shipping and Tourism ministries and has announced cruise tourism development as a project of national importance.