7 PM | Time to go on a cruise | 6th August, 2019

Context: potential of cruise industry in India

  • ‘Cruise Ships’ are like moving township studded with state of art facilities and variety of recreational activities Cruise lines are popularly known as floating resorts which runs through the oceans and seas from different home ports to various destinations.
  • Cruise line offers various packages of tour to different beautiful parts of the world in different countries to their clients or guest

Potential of cruise industry in India:

  • Vast coastline: India with its vast and beautiful coastline, virgin forests and undisturbed idyllic islands, rich historical and cultural heritage, can be a fabulous tourist destination for cruise tourists.
  • With the Indian economy developing at a steady pace, middle class growing in number and increasingly possessing disposal incomes which could be spent on leisure activities, Indians could also take on cruise shipping in a big way.
  • Growth: While the growth rate witnessed globally in cruise shipping sector (in terms of cruise ship fleet and passengers carried) is in the range of 10% -20%, Indian coastline is not witnessing the same growth pattern. So government has the chance to tap the potential
  • Indian ocean region: World’s most favorite cruising areas, i.e, Carribean, Mediterranean, Alaska and the latest additions in South East Asia have saturated for quite some time. In this backdrop, there is tremendous opportunity for Indian Ocean region.
  • India with its large coastline and varied unspoiled tourist destinations which can all be explored for cruise shipping by visiting any of our sea-ports makes it an ideal place for marketing cruise shipping/tourism to both domestic and international clients.
  • Economic benefits: It is estimated that on an average a cruise tourist spends about US$ 200-300, a cruise staff/officer spend about US$ 100-150 per port visit. Besides, a vibrant ‘Cruise Shipping’ sector has a number of spin-off effects in Service sector.
  • Present workforce of India is growing exponentially; to tap the workforce cruise sector is better opportunity.

Problems facing by cruise industry in India:

  • Despite the inherent advantages/economic benefits and tremendous potential of ‘Cruise Shipping’ sector, the country has not witnessed any worthwhile growth, as compared to the growth witnessed in Latin America and South East Asia in this segment.
  • Absence of Indian cruise flag vessels: Presently no Indian Shipping Line owns any luxury cruise liner. Policy dispensation being prescribed vide this document is expected to lead to Indian flag cruise liners becoming a reality in not so distant future.
  • Immigration problems: Cruise tourism is a leisure activity involving disembarkation of a large number of tourists (1000 – 2000 at a time) at the ports of call. Delays on account of immigration formalities not only spoil the mood of the tourists but also give negative publicity to the country as a whole. Hence it is imperative that immigration formalities are completed quickly and with ease.
  • Quarantine issues: Indian Port Health Rules 1955 govern quarantine restrictions for passenger ships, cargo ships as well as cruise ships. Diseases, which come under the purview of these Rules for the purpose of quarantine restrictions, are Cholera, Plague and Yellow Fever.

Areas for improvements:

  • Develop good infrastructure at identified Ports: Create dedicated cruise terminals at Mumbai, Cochin and Goa,Upgrade port facilities at exotic locales like Lakshadweep &Andamans and Chennai,create dedicated cruise terminals at Chennai, Mangalore and Tuticorin, explore potential of other ports like Porbandar &Kandla in the West Coast: and Vishakapatnam, Calcutta & Paradeep in the East Coast
  • Dedicated terminals would need to address security concerns and facilitation: Cruise Terminals located within Cargo Port area create security issues. In creating dedicatedterminals, this aspect has to be addressed and resolved. Also hospitality related aspects to enablethe necessary facilitation services to the cruise tourists would have to be built into the cruiseterminal development plans.
  • Terminal Plans would need to be developed in consultation with key players: In finalizing the cruise terminal development plan, inputs from cruise lines, tour agents, and developers would ensure that the concerns of the key stakeholders are adequately addressed. This would ensure the long term success of the terminal
  • Initiate Feasibility Studies: Feasibility studies for individual cruise terminals would need to take into account the port specific developmental aspects duly incorporating capital cost towards dredging based on geographical features of the concerned port, land acquisition costs etc
  • Make cruise terminals into destinations by themselves: Cruise terminals represent the entry point of the cruise tourists into various tourism locations. Besides offering the facilities and amenities that would be essentially from the point of view of tourist facilitation, it would be an important strategy to make the cruise terminals themselves into mini tourism destinations much like a tourist village showcasing India’s art and handicrafts.
  • And ethnic bazaars, a small museum offering a bird’s eye view of the tourist attractions of the region, food stalls with typical Indian cuisine, children’s play area etc. In addition to being an effective promotional medium of the country’s brand it would also increase the commercial and business potential of the terminal making it more amenable for private sector participation.

Way forward:

  • India being is one of the top most destinations for travel sport for domestic and international cruise tourists. Cruise Tourism is becoming an increasingly popular leisure choice in India.
  • Cruises, which were at one time considered the prerogative of the rich, are today fast reaching to all class of travelers. India’s virgin forests, undisturbed idyllic islands, long historical and cultural tradition of architecture, theatre and performing arts, 7,517kms long beautiful coastline and strong port positioning imparts a natural advantage to the country to attract international cruise line.
  • India’s positioning in South East Asia and its proximity to already popular cruise destinations would enable strong cruise circuits to be created over a period of time.

Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/rajkamal-rao/time-to-go-on-a-cruise/article28830610.ece.

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