Cordelia Cruises is planning to pump in excess of USD 1 billion by 2025 for acquiring at least three cruise ships as it aims to target the domestic market, which has world’s third-largest coastline of 7,500 kms, a top company official said.
The company’s bullish outlook is in line with the government’s projection of a 10-fold growth for this industry over the next decade, reports PTI.
“India will do extremely well in the cruise sector. I am confident that in the next 5-7 years India will be one of the top five cruise destinations of the world, similar to China five years ago. We have aggressive expansion plans. We want to add at least three cruise vessels by 2025 that could cost over USD 1 billion,” Jurgen Bailom, CEO, Waterways Leisure Tourism PTI in an interview.
Cordelia is owned by Waterways Leisure Tourism — an arm of Dream Hotel Group — controlled by the Indian American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal.
Bailom said with government’s focus and support, the investment from this Indian venture could rise to even USD 1.5-2 billion to meet the growing appetite for cruising by Indians over the next few years. Many foreign cruise liners have already shown interest in entering India, he said.
Asked about financing the expansion, Bailom said the Indian banking system does not have enough experience in vessel financing but there are “specialist financiers” for cruise liners.
Union Minister for Ports, Shipping & Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal recently said that the Indian cruise market has the potential to grow 10-fold over the next decade, driven by rising demand and disposable incomes.
“We are a proud Indian company and will remain focused on domestic guests. After the COVID lockdown, since last September and now, we already had 1.15-1.18 lakh guests which is a good response,” Bailom said.
India aims to increase cruise passenger traffic from 0.4 million at present to 4 million. Economic potential of Cruise tourism is expected to go up from $110 million to $5.5 billion in the years to come.
“About two lakh Indian guests travel overseas for cruising every year.We expect this number to double in one year.While in the next 3 years the number of cruise guests may touch one million per annum for domestic cruising,” Bailom said.
Bailom noted that though ports are good but the access for 1,500-2000 guests to board and disembark for is not a very pleasant experience which needs an urgent correction.
“We have submitted a white paper suggesting some measures including a five-year tax break that will boost the industry to expand the way the government aims,” Bailom who is one of the key experts of the sector in India said in the virtual interaction.
Bailom said the company is looking forward to connecting “Kolkata” as a destination in their East-coverage plan.
Cordelia was till recently ferrying within West coasts, is now chartering into East coasts touching Visakhapatnam and Chennai.
When asked, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Santanu Thakur said the government will support the cruise industry to grow and cruise liners are welcome to touch new states
“We want a holistic experience for guests blended with the “culture” of the respective state when guests arrive at any destination,” Thakur told PTI.
Kolkata Port, known as Syama Prasad Port Kolkata, Chairman, Vinit Kumar has invited cruise liners to explore Kolkata.
The port has plans to develop a cruise terminal. “India needs more ports as six ports are not enough to cover the country with cruise tourism, Bailom” said