Passenger traffic on cruises rose to 4.68 lakh from 1.26 lakh: tourism minister Kishan Reddy

Union Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy said Monday that India’s long coastline with access to multiple ports, natural beaches and beautiful islands is an important lever for trade and growing exports, and also offers opportunities to boost tourism.

Speaking at a side event on cruise tourism at the fourth G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in Goa, he said the central government is working on modernizing and modernizing ports, streamlining port dues, eliminating transhipment charges and giving cruise ships priority berths and providing E-visa facilities to promote cruise tourism.

“Cruise passenger traffic increased from 1.26 lakh in 2015-16 to 4.68 lakh in 2019-20 and cruise ship traffic increased from 128 in 2015-16 to 451 in 2019-2020… The Ministry of Ports, shipping and waterways are working on the development of dedicated terminals for cruise passengers and cruise ships. Waterdromes are being developed at 16 locations to allow seaplane operations. It also aims to develop domestic and international cruise terminals in selected ports by 2023,” he said.

dr M. Beena, Chairman of the Cochin Port Authority, said that as part of the Maritime India Vision 2030, the development of four themed coastal cruises is planned to boost cruise tourism along the Indian coast.

“The destinations of the tour include pilgrimage tours in Gujarat, cultural and scenic tours on the West Coast, Ayurvedic wellness tours in Kerala on the South Coast and cultural tourism on the East Coast,” she said.

Beena said a special pilgrimage tourism circuit could be developed in Gujarat along the state’s coast to appeal to tourists visiting Dwarka, Veraval, Somnath and Porbandar. “A history and culture circuit can be developed on the West Coast, linking Mumbai to Sindhudurg Fort and beaches in Goa and extending to Kannur (Kerala Backwaters). Kerala’s coastline can be used for Ayurvedic wellness and scenic tourism in Kochi, Trivandrum and Kozhikode. On the east coast, a cultural tourism circuit could be used between Rameshwaram, Mamallapuram, Nellore and Kakinada,” she said. “The Mormugao International Cruise Terminal in Goa will be operational by November 2023.”

Goa Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte said the state plans to expand its tourism potential by promoting less-explored avenues of spirituality, health and wellness, eco-tourism and traditional aspects.

“The State aims to implement long-term branding and awareness campaigns that highlight local events and hinterland tourism, showcasing its rich natural beauty and cultural heritage – Goa beyond the beaches. We are proud of our celebrations – both innate and acquired – and the state actively promotes festivals such as the Rio-inspired Carnival, our own culturally rich Shigmotsav, Sao Joao, Chikal Kalo to name a few,” he said.

Although the state has two active airports, there is a need to improve international flight connectivity and the state is exploring options with the center to offer more international flights to Goa, Khaunte said.

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