India extended by 5 years an earlier relaxation from the so-called "cabotage law" granted to foreign-registered cruise line companies to operate along country’s coast.
Only ships that are registered in India are allowed to ply on local itinerary routes for carrying passengers and cargo according to the cabotage rule, which is a sovereign right used to protect the local shipping industry from foreign competition and for the purpose of national security.
In February 2009, to encourage global luxury liners to run cruises in India, the government eased laws that had barred foreign-registered ships from carrying passengers between Indian ports, without a licence from the director general of shipping, India’s maritime regulator. The relaxation is valid for 10 years till February 2019.
A task force on cruise tourism led by tourism secretary had recommended extension of cabotage relaxation beyond February 2019 “for sending a good signal to the cruise community”.
The recommendation of the task force has been examined and the ministry of shipping has decided to relax cabotage restrictions for foreign flag vessels carrying passengers by 5 years beyond February 5, 2019, according to a statement from the shipping ministry.
The decision comes in the backdrop of an announcement by Genoa, Italy-based Costa Crociere S.p.A and a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise ship operator, to start a cruise line service from 16 December this year using Mumbai in India’s financial capital as a home port where services begin and end.
Costa Crociere is the Italy’s largest travel group and the Europe’s top cruise company, which runs cruise service under the brand name Costa Cruises. The company plans to run a service between Mumbai and Maldives islands till 18 March 2017, when the cruising season typically ends.