TOURISM MAY SET SAIL FROM GOA SHORES

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Tourism may set sail from Indian shores soon

The ministry will invest Rs 1,500 crore to set up five cruise terminals in the country, one each in Mumbai, Goa, Chennai, Cochin and near Kandla port.

NEW DELHI: Come 2018 and Indian sea farerscan set sail for Australia, the Middle East,Thailand or Indonesia without having to first fly to Singapore or Bangkok to board a cruise liner.

The government has prepared a plan to develop cruise tourism from India and is in talks with international companies to kick-start the facility by next year as part of efforts to promote the country as a complete tourist destination. The move is expected to boost revenue from tourism and create jobs.

A high-level taskforce chaired by the shipping secretary is in advanced discussions with cruise terminal management and construction companies including Singapore-based SATS-Creuers Cruise Services and London-based PSA to start operations from India, a senior government official told ET on condition of anonymity because the proposal is yet to be finalised.

“The tenders for the same would be floated soon,” the official said, adding that the shipping ministry has roped in Miami-based consulting firm Bermello Ajamil & Partners along with EY to draw up a plan for the development of cruise tourism.

The ministry will invest Rs 1,500 crore to set up five cruise terminals in the country, one each in Mumbai, Goa, Chennai, Cochin and near Kandla port.

Another top official in the tourism ministry confirmed that work is in advanced stages and the government will finalise incentives to be offered to attract international companies to set up base in India.

“These could include extending the facility of e-visa at ports, giving tax concessions, creating ports of international standards and setting up dedicated berths at select ports for cruise liners,” the official added, requesting not to be identified. According to the second official, there is no international cruise starting from India and Indians craving for a holiday at sea must first travel to Singapore or Thailand to take up one.

“Consequently, they lose time in going to Singapore or Thailand and shell out extra for air tickets,” the official said.

“The rollout of international cruises from India will give a big boost to tourism and would also open doors to big Indian weddings on cruises, besides creating more jobs,” the official said, adding that over the years, cruise tourism could become one of the major revenue generators for the country.

The cruise tourism sector is estimated to have a revenue potential of close to Rs 35,000 crore and is expected to create over 250,000 jobs, shipping and road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had said in August.

Demand for cruise tourism increased 62% between 2005 and 2015, with more than 25 million such passengers likely by the end of this year, according to Cruise Lines International Association. The industry generated $117 billion in output worldwide in 2015.

Courtesy ECONOMIC TIMES

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