River cruise industry could become a new tourism avenue in India in the coming years.
Union Tourism Minister, G. Kishan Reddy while addressing the 1st Incredible India International Cruise Conference (IIICC) in Mumbai on May 15, stressed the vast potential of the river cruise industry in the country. Aligning in the direction, he also invited domestic and international tourists to ‘Come, Cruise in India.’
IIICC provided a platform for discussions on strategies for developing India as a cruise hub, policy initiatives, and port infrastructure, the potential of river cruise tourism, the role of technology in the post-pandemic world, and more. In recent years, the Government has been focusing on sustainable development that also takes care of the environment. It has taken several initiatives. One among them is the river cleanliness and rejuvenation programmes under which significant efforts have been made to clean and rejuvenate our rivers. Namami Gange Project is part of the initiative and can provide a major boost to river-based tourist activities in the country.
Come, Cruise in India
According to the Union Tourism Minister, the Government is currently working towards a comprehensive Indian National Tourism Policy and cruise tourism will be a priority sector. The tourism sector is one of the most vibrant and fast-growing sectors. With Government initiatives like the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan, tourism-related infrastructure is also being developed with a focus on shipping, river tourism, and forest and wildlife tourism.
Citing upcoming opportunities, Union Minister Reddy also said that there are around 150 conferences planned at various places in the G-20 countries that would help in tapping the cruise tourism potential of India. These platforms could be used for showcasing the tourism potential in India. Further, the promotion of coastal tourism through Beach tourism, Lighthouse tourism, and Cruise tourism will also help communities such as fishing communities to find other livelihood opportunities and supplement their existing income.
Developing thematic circuits
Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy also said that under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, the Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned ten projects under coastal thematic circuits worth Rs. 648.80 crore across various States / Union Territories. Furthermore, the government has also sanctioned 228.61 crores for various projects on developing cruise terminals and related infrastructure at major ports under the ”Assistance to Central Agencies for Tourism Infrastructure Development” scheme.
A total of eight MoUs were signed at the “Incredible India International Cruise Conference”. This includes:
1. Mumbai Port and Angriya Sea Eagle Ltd for home porting their cruise ship in Mumbai for the upcoming cruising season.
2. Mumbai Port and Waterways Leisure Tourism P. Ltd for home porting their cruise ship in Chennai for the upcoming cruising season.
3. Mumbai Port and Training Ship Rahaman for being an existing service provider in the field of Maritime Training for Cruise Vessels. It will endeavor to recruit Indian seafarers to support the Indian Maritime Vision 2030.
4. Mumbai Port and The Apollo Group USA for being an existing service provider to cruise operators in India, with approximately 600 seafarers.
5. Chennai Port and Waterways Leisure Tourism P. Ltd. for home porting their cruise ship in Chennai for the upcoming cruising season.
6. IWAI and Antara Luxury River Cruises for River Cruise between Varanasi (UP) and Bogibeel (Dibrugarh, Assam) via Kolkata under the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route.
7. IWAI and Adventure Resorts and Cruises for Development of Long Cruise on Kerela Backwaters (NW-3).
8. IWAI and JM Baxi River Cruise between Varanasi and Bogibeel via Kolkata under the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route