Govt. will Unveil Cruise Tourism Policy Soon, says Nitin Gadkari
New Delhi: Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, said here the other day that the Government will come out with a cruise tourism policy to increase the cruise liner traffic to the country. “In a month’s time, the Union Shipping Ministry in collaboration with the Tourism Ministry will unveil the country’s first cruise tourism policy,’’ he said while speaking at a workshop held here the other day.
Stating that the policy was aimed at turning India into a major hub of cruise tourism by addressing its shortcomings, Nitin Gadkari said initially five ports —Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Chennai and Kochi— will be developed as cruise hubs.
Issues like restrictions on the movement of foreign liners, taxes levied on vessels based on tonnage rather than the number of passengers and perceived passenger-unfriendly image of Indian ports are hampering the growth of the sector, according to the Union Minister. The government aims to achieve development of port berths of international standards for cruise ships and simplification of security and immigration procedures for tourists through the policy, Nitin Gadkari added.
A panel headed by Shipping and Tourism Secretaries had already prepared a draft plan, and the final policy would be unveiled next month after getting Cabinet approval, he said. India has a very small share of the world cruise tourism market, estimated at 23 million passengers in 2016. Until February 2024, foreign flag vessels carrying passengers have been allowed to call at Indian ports without securing a licence from the Director General of Shipping.