Centre approves Rs106-cr investment in cruise tourism infrastructure

The centre has sanctioned investment of Rs106.39 crore for development of cruise terminals in the coastal states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, minister of state for tourism K J Alphons stated in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

He said the ministry of tourism has also approved various projects for the development of related infrastructure in these five states under the Scheme for ‘Assistance to Central Agencies for Tourism Infrastructure Development’.
The government has also formed a joint task force of the ministry of tourism and the ministry of shipping with representatives of all major ports and stakeholders for coordinated efforts to create an enabling ecosystem for the development of cruise tourism in India, he stated.
During the year 2017-18, a total of 139 cruise ships berthed at six major ports of Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Kolkata, New Mangalore and Mormugao and about 1,62,660 cruise passengers visited India, he added.
In order to facilitate an increased flow of cruise tourists into the country, the government had allowed foreign flag vessels carrying passengers to call at Indian ports for 10 years beginning 6 February 2009, without obtaining a licence from the Director General of Shipping. This facility has now been extended further for a period of 5 years, ie, up to 5 February 2024.
The standard operating procedures (SOPs) for cruise vessels have also been revised and operationalised from November 2017 for uniform, redefined processes to be observed by all major ports.
Immigration counters have been set up at five major ports visited by cruise ships. The facility of E-visa has been extended to five sea ports, namely, Mumbai, Goa, New Mangalore, Cochin and Chennai.
Cruise tourists arriving with E-visa have been exempted from the requirement of biometric enrollment for a period of three years, ie, till 31 December 2020 to facilitate expeditious immigration clearance.
The port charges have been reduced and all major ports now charge a uniform single rate of $0.35 per Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) for first 12 hours of stay effective 3 November 2017 and will remain in force for a period of three years.
The ports do not levy any priority / ousting / shifting charges for berthing the cruise vessel.
Walk-in berthing / preferential berthing to home-port cruise without any extra charge is now available.
To address manpower, coordination and logistic issues for handling cruise vessels at ports, port level facilitation committees have been formed under the respective chairman of all major ports to facilitate seamless handling of cruise ships and passengers.