As Mumbai port awaits one of the world’s largest cruise ships on Saturday, the ministry of shipping has appointed an international consultant -Bermello Ajamil & Partners -to prepare an economically viable plan to develop coastal and inland cruise ports in the country.
“We expect the report in the next four-and-half months in order to move ahead with development of ports,” said MbPT chairman Sanjay Bhatia. The development of cruise port will help India attract international cruise liners and boost sea tourism.
Till now, there has been no opportunity for Mumbaikars to board international luxury cruise liners. Flying to other countries to take international cruises was the only option.
However, the scenario is changing with the shipping ministry , state government and Mumbai Port Trust launching several initiatives to make Mumbai the Gateway to International Cruise in India.
The 18-deck-luxury ship, Genting Dream, arrived from Germany on its maiden voyage and set sail with around 2,000 tourists to Colombo and Singapore recently . Another international cruise ship, Costa Neo Clasica, has decided to make Mumbai a `home port’ for over three months and make seven international tours from here. “Mumbai Port Trust has opted to give certainty of berth and priority to cruise ships over cargo ships though revenue from cruise ships is less attractive than the latter. The port trust offers 40% discount in charges to cruise ships and has done away with berthing charge,” said Bhatia.
Thanks to the initiatives, 59 cruise ships have confirmed their arrivals to Mumbai Port in 2016-17, as against 37 the previous year.
Cruise Tourism contributes handsomely to the local economy but the economic impact of `home porting’ (starting and termination of cruise trips at Mumbai port) is tremendous in terms of attracting tourists, passengers, cruise liners besides investors and developers.
Implementation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has also been initiated, phase-wise.