Union Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has said that the government is working on a cruise tourism policy which will be announced next month with an intent to tap India's vast potential on this front and attract more vessels. He also asserted that at present, India attracts nearly 70 cruise vessels a year and the number is expected to go up 10-fold to 700 with this initiative. He also expressed his hopes that next year is going to be very good for cruise tourism in India.
Gadkari has said that the action plan will be ready in the next three months that includes key steps on par with international standards, simplification of procedures, easy immigration and ways to make India a global hotspot. He also said that steps are already being undertaken to boost infrastructure that include building cruise terminals at five major ports --Mumbai, Goa, New Mangalore, Chennai and Cochin. In addition, he disclosed that modern cruise terminals being developed at ports will include hospitality, retail, shopping and restaurants, adding that about 200 minor ports will develop jetties for such cruise vessels. He explained that cruise tourism is a great means for bringing foreign exchange from overseas travellers to India. He added that cruise tourists contribute handsomely to local economies and has the potential to be a driver of growth for the areas touched by it.
Listing out various policy initiatives for promoting cruise shipping, the Minister said that ships are now allowed to stay for 3 days, up from the earlier 24 hours, and rules have been simplified to attract more vessels. He also said that easier standard operating procedure (SOP) for cruise operations involving multiple agencies has already been issued. Apart from this, he noted that the government has allowed foreign flag vessels carrying passengers to call at Indian ports without securing a licence from the director general of shipping till February 5, 2024.