Inspired by promising signs with the setting up of a cruise terminal in Mumbai, Chennai may also get such terminal. Interestingly, the terminal may come as a gateway to promote tourism in South India.
A parliamentary standing committee has strongly recommended the same. According to the committee, the Chennai port should follow the example of the Mumbai Port Trust. Also, the city should develop and revamp cruise terminals for passengers and tourists in India.
In fact, over one crore foreign tourists visit Tamil Nadu annually. The number indicates the highest tourist arrival in the country. After Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala manage to attract the tourists from all over the world. Another key point to note is that predominantly, Mumbai, Chennai
Taking into account the quick development of Chennai city, O’Brien further said that the committee wished to have a satellite port to be developed in Puducherry. This was suggested in order to decongest cargo handling in one of the oldest ports in India. As of now, Chennai already flaunts two huge satellite ports at Kattupalli and Ennore, both in the north of the city.
In addition to this, O’Brien, talking about the Cochin port also informed that Ernakulam Wharf may soon get a new passenger terminal. The cost of the terminal is estimated to be around Rs. 25 crores and has a capacity for ships up to 420m length overall (LOA). Another key point to note about the terminal is that it will be spread over 2,285 sq meters floor area. The terminal will have 3,000 – 6,000 passenger capacity. Furthermore, there will be 30 immigration counters.
The terminal will also come equipped with a set of buggies and scanners. The tourism ministry will finance the terminal. A dedicated terminal already available at the Cochin port at Mattancherry is for cruise ships with 160 m LOA and has a capacity of 2,000 passengers.
Commenting on the efforts being made by the New Mangalore port to expand the cruise tourism facilities, the chairman of the standing committee said that other efforts must be made to enhance the potential of cruise tourism in Mangalore. Interestingly, Mangalore is considered as an ideal cruise destination because of its pristine beaches and scenic coast.
Because of the serious steps taken by the government to promote cruise tourism, a full-fledged cruise terminal is ready with many facilities. The services offered here include facilities for immigration, customs, port health, facilitation centers, banking services, boutiques
Expecting a boost in the cruise traffic, the Mangalore Port features modern cruise passenger lounge in close proximity to the berth. It covers an area of 2,150 sq meters.
The committee expected ministries of tourism and shipping to work hand in hand together with tour operators and state government. This is done in order to enhance cruise tourism in peninsular India, which has a huge untapped potential.
The reason behind thrusting cruise tourism through Chennai and Mumbai ports is that major cities all over the world have slowly reduced their cargo handling activities. In fact, the cities like Miami, Singapore, Busan, Vancouver
The global ports show a striking similarity with the ports in Chennai and Mumbai. All of these city ports are placed around the commercial and economic hub of the area. Furthermore, they have manipulated their USP on the cruise.
The authorities of the Mumbai port is already working towards the establishment of cruise terminals due to their capacity constraints in cargo handling. Chennai port may soon follow the same.
In order to ensure ease of process related to doing business in terms of cruise shipping, immigration and license, the parliament committee expected the shipping ministry to take necessary steps. It further expected finance and home ministries to cooperate in the efforts of shipping and tourism ministries. The efforts are aimed to expand and modernize the cruise terminals across various ports in India.
In an interview, Satyajeet Rajan, director-general of tourism, informed that the main problem that hinders the promotion of cruise tourism in India is the high rate of taxes. In addition to this, the Goods and Service Tax add to the woes. He also said that foreign tourists plan to visit India for a long holiday. The reason for this is the vastness of the country and the availability of a plethora of sanctuaries, historical heritage sites, beaches
Foreign tourists, especially from the United States and Europe want to spend more days in India. Following the Indian tax system, one doesn’t have to pay taxes on several products, services and liquor onboard. However, while exploring the country as a tourist after de-boarding the ship commands heavy taxes on most of the items consumed. This is because 28% GST plus taxes are levied upon these items as they fall under sin goods.
Rajan informed that the tourism ministry has prepared a report in collaboration with shipping ministry to handle such issues. This is done in order to tap the huge potential for promoting cruise tourism.