Gangapuram Kishan Reddy, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Development of Northeastern Region, Government of India, said that cruise tourism is one of the most vibrant and fast-growing sectors of the leisure and travel industry. The promotion of coastal tourism through beach tourism, lighthouse tourism, and cruise tourism will help communities such as fishing communities to find other livelihood opportunities and supplement their income.
He said that through the Central Financial Assistance Scheme, the Ministry of Tourism has been supporting tourism infrastructure by developing ports and cruise terminals, lighthouses and river cruise circuits and purchasing ferries. He added that the government is also working towards developing dedicated terminals for cruise passengers and cruise vessels.
“The government has recognised cruise tourism as a niche tourism product to attract tourists”, the Minister said while alluding to the initiatives for the sector.
He said that under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, MoT has sanctioned 10 projects under coastal thematic circuits worth INR 648.80 crore across various states/union territories.
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. These include the development of cruise terminals, lighthouses, and other tourist infrastructure in Goa, Mumbai, and Visakhapatnam.
Alluding to the need of tourism policy for the country, the Minister said “we are now working towards formulating the comprehensive national tourism policy”, and exhorted the industry members at the event to prepare a proper roadmap for development of river tourism in India and create an action plan for the river cruising in a mission mode.
Speaking on the various efforts taken by the Ministry, GKV Rao, Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said, “The country’s perennial rivers will offer a historical experience and state governments are developing inland waterways tourism policies to cater to domestic tourists and international travellers”.
Addressing the Potential of River Cruising session, Sanjay Bandopadhyaya, Chairman, Inland Waterway Authority of India, Government of India, said, “We are developing more jetties and terminals on the banks of rivers and providing night navigation and river information systems to increase the efficiency of the movement of cruises”.
IWAI Chairman added that the government has brought about changes in the Indian vessel act 2021 to anchor a unified system of survey, certification of the vessels and the personnel. He said there will be a unified licensing system for the entire country and the vessels will not be required to take licenses from each and every state. “The certificates and licences given by the state will be valid for the entire country and also help develop a unified system of quality”, he said.
Ashutosh Gautam, Member (Technical) & Member (Traffic) (I/C), IWAI, Government of India, highlighted the status of waterways and interventions to improve infrastructure and promote river tourism.
In addition, eight MoUs – between private players in the cruise tourism sector and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Mumbai Port Authority – were solemnised in the presence of Reddy and Sarbananda Sonowal.