To position India as a preferred destination for cruise tourism globally, the Ministry of Tourism has drafted a National Strategy for Cruise Tourism. The Government of India is making vigorous efforts to promote cruise tourism in India. This information was provided by Union Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy to the Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Parliament Session. Earlier, on 13th January 2023, PM Modi flagged off the World’s Longest River Cruise from Varanasi on NW-1 (River Ganga) to Dibrugarh NW-2 (River Brahmaputra) via Bangladesh, which successfully completed its journey by covering waterway distance of 3200 km approx. on 28th February 2023 at Dibrugarh, Assam.
‘Cruise Shipping’ is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing components of the leisure industry worldwide. India has significant capabilities in cruise tourism for the coastal & river sector. This is due to the presence of 12 Major and 200 Minor Ports along the 7500 km long coastline across the west and east and a network of more than 20000 kilometers long navigable 110 waterways connecting around 400 rivers.
The Ministry of Tourism, as part of its on-going activities, releases global print, electronic and online media campaigns in important, and potential markets overseas, under the ‘Incredible India’ brand-line, to promote various tourism destinations and products of the country.
Strategy for Cruise Tourism
In order to achieve the goal, the following strategic pillars have been identified in the strategy document for infrastructure & circuit enablement, market development and skill development:
– Infrastructure & Circuit Enablement
– Market Development
– Ease of doing Business for Cruise Tourism
– Integrated Tourism around Cruise Terminals
– Facilitating and Promoting Investment in Cruise Tourism
– Skill Development for Cruise Tourism
– Institutional Structure and Governance
Further, the Ministry of Tourism provides financial assistance to the State Governments/UT Administrations and Central Government Agencies for development of tourism including Cruise Tourism and Cruising along rivers, under the scheme for ‘Assistance to Central Agencies for Tourism Infrastructure development’.
The Ministry of Tourism partnered with the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways during the 1st Incredible India International Cruise Conference. The conference showcased abundant business opportunities in the cruise tourism sector including river cruising. The conference was attended by more than 300 delegates including major global cruise lines viz, MSC, Carnival, RCCL, Costa, Cordelia, Holland America group etc.
Further, the cruise passenger traffic grew from 1.26 lakh in 2015-16 to 4.68 lakh in 2019-20 and the cruise vessel traffic increased from 128 in 2015-16 to 451 in 2019-2020.
The objective of the policy is to make India as an attractive cruise tourism destination with the state-of-the-art infrastructural and other facilities at various parts in the country to attract the right segment of the foreign tourists to cruise shipping in India; to popularize cruise shipping with Indian tourists. The Ministry of Tourism has accordingly included promotion of Cruise Shipping under its “New initiatives”.
As conveyed by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, India has taken Cruise Tourism promotion and campaign to International Cruise events by actively participating in International forums viz Sea-Trade Miami, Dubai etc. Further, as conveyed by Inland Waterways Authority of India, the infrastructure developed for transportation on National Waterways (NWs) by IWAI including fairway, terminals, jetties, navigation aids etc. are used by the river tourism operators also.