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New Eras Old Ambition of Indian Cruise Tourism: Costa Serena Sets Sail Again

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Mumbai, India : The maritime industry in India witnessed a historic moment as Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, flagged off the relaunch of maiden voyage of the Costa Serena, India’s first International Cruise Liner in Mumbai on 03 November 2023 that shut down it’s service a decade before. The relaunch of domestic sailings by Costa Cruises represents a monumental step in India’s cruise tourism and an initiative towards “Dekho Apna Desh” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking at the occasion Sarbananda Sonowal said, “The launch of Costa Cruises’ domestic sailings in India thus is a momentous occasion that signifies the dawn of a new era in cruising and tourism. This initiative has been driven by the “Dekho Apna Desh” initiative of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

New Eras Old Ambition of Indian Cruise Tourism: Costa Serena Sets Sail Again - Maritime News

It may be recalled that in our news article  ‘Sarbananda Sonowal Set to Flag Off Costa Serena: A Pioneering Moment for India’s Cruise Industry’ published last week, we have shared the reason what let shut down of the Costa Serena service in India around a decade back within a time span of just Nine months. And what were the challenges then and now.

However looking at the positive aspects and expecting the role of Government of India‘s comittment for promoting Cruise Tourism. We share with you the few facts.

Cruise Tourism for Economic Growth

India has started focusing on the cruise sector due to the visible significant economic impact, opportunity of new job creation, and increase in foreign exchange earnings. One of the main reason to this initiative is to develop more such new cruise destination at various coastal and island tourism.

Steps taken by Government for Promoting the Cruise Industry

The Government of India is taking up several new steps to promote and explore the cruise tourism industry in India. These include ensuring berths for cruise ships, removing ousting charges, providing a uniform single rate for all major ports, offering volume discounts in cruise tariff, waiving cabotage for foreign cruise vessels, and standardizing procedures for customs, immigrations, CISF, and ports. The conditional IGST exemption for foreign flag foreign-going vessels when converting to coastal runs has also lightened the financial burden on foreign cruise operators.

Enhanced Growth in Cruise Tourism

Setting up of new Cruise destination will enhance the growth in India’s cruise tourism industry. In the last nine years, cruise ship calls have increased by 223%, and the number of cruise passengers has surged by 461%. River cruise tourism has also witnessed a 180% rise in operations during the same period.

Vibrant Future for Indian Cruise Industry

India’s cruising industry is attracting the attention of international cruise liners, with new services on the horizon. This cruise industry’s future is presently appearing to be more promising for the future, with sustainable growth in longer run.

Sagarmala Programme Boosts Coastal & Cruise Tourism

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways’ flagship scheme, the Sagarmala Programme, actively supports the development of cruise tourism and lighthouse tourism. Number of projects have been identified to promoting tourism in maritime industry in most of the states of India, wherein the focus is on enhancing passenger facilities and infrastructure development.

India’s Ambitious Cruise Tourism Vision

Under the Maritime India Vision 2030, the Indian government aims to establish the country as the premier cruise hub in the Asia Pacific region. The action is taken with the vision for developing state-of-the-art cruise terminals, standardized procedures, and e-visa facilities. The goal is to increase the annual number of cruise passengers in India to 18 lakhs by 2030, up from the current 4.72 lakhs.

Maritime Amritkaal Vision 2047

Aligned with the Maritime Amritkaal Vision 2047, India envisions having 25 operational cruise terminals by 2047, catering to an estimated 5 million cruise passengers annually. The Government of India is planning to bring in a new cruise tourism policy to ensure a sustainable growth of the industry. As it understands that the challenges with respect to old policies, GST, different taxation, excise laws, custom duties, etc. will need some relaxation.

It is being assumed that with the relaunch of the Costa Serena, India after a gap of nine years, might help India showcasing it’s commitment to further developing its cruise industry. And in a long run it will assure a bright and prosperous future for cruise tourism in India.

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