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Monday, 21 August, 2017, 12 : 39 PM [IST]

Sea of Opportunity

disha The kind of momentum cruising as a holiday concept has generated in the past five years among Indian travellers has clearly drawn the government’s attention to its potential as a revenue generator for the economy. In fact, at a conference recently, representative of an international cruise liner made it amply clear that the Indian government needs to make some ‘expensive investments’ if the concept has to fructify, and stressed on deploying ‘Indian cruise ships for Indian travellers sailing in Indian waters’. This is an important observation considering the fact that domestic tourism stands tall all the time in this country, whether in good times or even during some of the worst economic and political crisis.

The success of the cruise tourism in the mature markets is mainly due to their robust domestic cruise system in place. This is what driving mass tourist foot fall. There is not even an iota of doubt that a dedicated focus for domestic cruising in India will have a far reaching effect in making the segment truly a vibrant one. A case in point can be China, 10 years ago the cruise tourism segment was at its nascent stage, however with the deployment of domestic vessels made all the difference for them. Today the country accounts for 2 million cruise passengers. Therefore, the potential of domestic cruising is an opportunity that India can’t afford to overlook in the current scenario where an ever-increasing number of travellers are undertaking cruise travel from the nearby international ports.

For a travel market like India where families and groups continue to remain stronger customer base, deploying a cruise would just open up the avenues for the travellers and trade alike. With a domestic cruise ship sailing in the Indian backyard... air, rail and road travel will gain equal momentum and complement cruise tourism. The negation of issues like visa and international airfare will only make it hassle-free for the travel trade to sell the concept of cruise holidays with a mix of land travel. Moreover, the concept would work in favour of corporate and business travellers alike for an experience extraordinary.

Another benefit of this exercise would be the enormous economic and employment benefits considering cruising is an activity-driven concept. But as rightly pointed out by the Shipping Minister himself, it is the stakeholders and bureaucrats to undertake proactive measures on war footing rather than get stuck in lengthy paperwork. If we can make aviation a dynamic sector, why not cruise? Is it not the time to wake up from deep slumber and make the most of an opportunity?

The system needs to wake up to the reality of domestic cruising to stay relevant and competitive as far as cruise tourism is concerned.

Disha Shah Ghosh
Chief Sub-Editor
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