India is going to be a magnificent cruise destination – Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and AYUSH

New Delhi :Cruise tourism is one of the most vibrant and fast-growing components of the leisure industry, said Union Minister Shri Sarbananda Sonowal.

He spoke at the 1st Incredible India International Cruise Conference 2022 organised by the Mumbai Port Authority under the aegis of Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

“Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi accords a huge priority to the cruise sector”, he said, adding, “India will be a magnificent cruise destination, and with the participation of global players, we will develop the sector and capture this growing market”.

Speaking to the media persons, Minister Shri Sonowal announced the setting up of a high-level advisory committee – which would include international cruise lines as members – to assist the Apex committee on Cruise Tourism to deliberate and anchor measures on boosting the cruise tourism sector, especially with an eye on increasing cruise calls at Indian ports, developing infrastructure, and improving the talent availability and jobs. Secretary, Ports and Shipping and Secretary, Tourism jointly co-chair the apex committee.

Shri Sarbananda Sonowal said that to tackle the talent shortage in the sector, three dedicated cruise training academies will be set up in the states of Goa, Kerala and West Bengal. “The Maritime India Vision 2030 aims to generate more than two lakh new jobs” he said.

The minister virtually laid the foundation stone of Third Chemical Berth at Pir Pau, Mumbai. The birth will have a rated capacity of two million metric tonnes per annum and cater to very large gas carriers and tankers up to 72500 displacement tonnage. It will be equipped with the latest safety standards under OISD norms.

In addition, he also virtually inaugurated DGLL’s Kelshi Light House in Maharashtra and Dhanushya Kodi Light House in Tamilnadu.

Shri Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping & Waterways & Tourism Government of India, said the cruise industry is an emerging industry in India owing to the country’s long coastline. He said that up-gradation and modernisation of the cruise infrastructure are being carried out at Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai and Vizag ports.

The minister also alluded to the large inland waterways network that makes the country an ideal destination for river cruises. Further, the minister asked the cruise business fraternity to share their expectations and suggestions during the conference. “We will surely work on the takeaways from the discussions to develop a robust cruise tourism ecosystem in the country”, he said.

Speaking on occasion, Shri 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 priorities 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 2022-23. 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 taxis transportation services are already operational, and Kanhoji Angre Island Tourism will be soon 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. The Indian cruise tourism market has the potential to grow ten-times over the next decade given the rising disposable incomes. He also laid out new possibilities in the cruise tourism circuit.

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

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

Shri 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”, he said, adding, “we are also setting up guidelines for adventure sports and all other tourism activities”.

Shri 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.

Shri 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 and 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.

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