India stepped up financial assistance to cruise ports for upgrading terminal facilities, Pon Radhakrishnan, shipping minister of the country, has told Parliament.
Tourism ministry pays out cash grants to upgrade cruise related infrastructure including facilities for smooth operation of liners and upgrade of cruise passenger terminals.
Radhakrishnan did not reveal the amount of the financial assistance, but shared that lighthouses would be advertised as "unique" tourism destinations. Projects have already been completed in Mahabalipuram and Chennai in the southern state Tamil Nadu. Development of the infrastructure of coastal tourism has also been identified as a push to cruise shipping.
To boost cruise tourism foreign flag ships carrying travelers are exempt from obtaining license from Director General of Shipping for a 10-year period until 2019.
Cruise ship visits at Cochin and Mumbai ports have risen to 40 and 47 respectively during the 2014-2015 period (ending March 31, 2015). Mumbai received 37 cruise vessels in the previous year, Cochin - 34.
Leading Asian operator Star Cruises, which promotes a series of Flycruise voyages from India, hopes for what Star Cruises' Vice-President of Sales, Naresh Rawal, referred to as "more consideration" from authorities concerning issues that arise from berthing. An example was offering incentives like port tariff reductions to have a dedicated berth especially for cruise ships.
Rawal added that strategically located cruise ports with good tourism network, in terms of air, land and sea connectivity were vital for developing cruise tourism in India. He assured they would continue to work closely with local authorities to further promote India as leading cruise destination.