The Government of India, under the stewardship of Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, is making concerted attempts to attract cruise lines to India and strongly encouraged them to home base cruise ships at Indian ports. To this end, the Shipping Ministry organised a roadshow in Mumbai on 8 August under the banner “The Dawn of Cruise Tourism in India”. The panel of speakers included the Shipping Minister, Secretaries from Shipping and Tourism and State Ministries, as well as Mr David Dingle, CBE, Chairman of Carnival UK, whom J M BAXI GROUP of companies represents at Indian ports It also included Mr Krishna Kotak, Chairman, J M BAXI GROUP.
As seen globally, one of the major characteristics of an attractive cruise destination is a customer-friendly and hassle-free logistical process for the embarking and disembarking of cruise passengers. This ease of process is essential as passengers begin and end a cruise holiday visiting destinations and tourist sites.
Mr Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai port, who also chairs the Indian Ports Association, has played a stellar role in infusing fresh impetus to cruise promotion in India and coordinating the various government agencies to streamline procedures and set up standard operating procedures, as well as easing the business of cruise tourism in India. He has outlined plans for new cruise terminals at Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Cochin and Chennai, which will be standalone and independent from other commercial shipping activities at these ports.
Mr David Dingle, CBE, Chairman, Carnival UK, welcomed the various steps and measures being introduced by the Indian authorities and highlighted the tremendous potential for developing cruise tourism in India. However, it was stated that a lot is required to be done by the authorities towards streamlining and rationalising port costs, which are extremely high in comparison to neighbouring and other cruise ports worldwide.
Mr Krishna Kotak, Chairman, J M BAXI GROUP of companies, was the only speaker from the private sector invited by the Government to speak on PPP (Public Private Partnership) in the cruise industry. It was highlighted that under the current leadership of the Shipping Minister, cruise vessels’ calls had seen an upward trend from 101 calls during 2013–14 to 175 calls during 2016–17. He welcomed the steps being taken by the government and Mr Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai port, to promote cruise tourism at Indian ports. Regarding PPP in the development of cruise projects, it was highlighted that the partnership with the private sector must be one of mutual trust, respect and equal to both public as well as private participants, in essence, a win-win for all parties.
The cruise industry is responsible for economic growth in many countries, from the Caribbean to Europe and the Far East. The average employment generated by a cruise ship is one job for every 3–4 people. With the approximate spending of USD 100–125 per person at each port, a cruise ship with a capacity of 3,000 plus translates into enormous volumes per day. In 2016–17 about 192,000 persons embarked / disembarked at Indian ports and as per the international cruise consultants, Bermello & Ajamil, who are appointed by the Shipping Ministry to chart a blueprint for Indian cruise development. The country has the potential to grow to 1.5 million by 2031 and to 4 million by 2042.