New Delhi, August 9: Union Shipping and Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the government is committed to creating the right environment for promoting cruise tourism in the country. Speaking at Dawn of Cruise Tourism in India - an international conference organized by the Shipping Ministry at Mumbai Port Yesterday, he said that India has a huge potential of hosting nearly 40 lakh cruise tourists.
Gadkari informed that the Ministry of Shipping has already embarked upon reforms to boost cruise tourism. Absence of world class infrastructure and lack of defined procedures for various government departments/agencies for dealing with cruise vessels and tourists have been identified as major hurdles in the growth of cruise tourism.
To address this, a task force comprising all relevant agencies like port, immigration, customs, port health authorities and security agencies was formed to study the present environment and procedures. A global consultant was hired to bring about a holistic approach and suggest the way forward, he added.
He said that various steps have already been taken for growth of cruise tourism. These include finalization of SoPs for handling cruise vessels and passengers, allowing foreign flag vessels carrying passengers to call at Indian ports without obtaining license from DG (Shipping), Constitution of Port-level Committees to address manpower, coordination and logistics issues . A discount of 40% is being given at Major Ports in Port charges.
Gadkari said, “additional rebate of 25% for home port cruise vessels in addition to 40% rebate for coastal cruise transportation. E-Visa facility and e- Landing card has been extended to five major ports. Uniformity in port charges for cruise vessels at all Major Ports- About Rs. 1,600 per person as against earlier practice of charging per tonnage of ship.”