Cruise tourism: Modi govt plans to develop terminals at major ports

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An unchartered territory of sorts, cruise tourism, is expected to gain some traction as the Union government plans to develop terminals at major ports to facilitate tourism activity.

A single entity will be entrusted with the job of executing the operation and maintenance contracts for the cruise terminals. Essentially, cruise terminals at 4-5 ports would be operated and maintained by one player.

The in consultation with the state maritime boards and major port authorities will execute the contracts.

"The first tender is expected to be executed by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the O&M tender would include JNPT, Kochi, Kandla and Mangalore Port," a top shipping ministry official told Business Standard.

A team of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore was in the capital earlier this month to meet Union Shipping Minister

The minister said these terminals would be built by the government and tendered on O&M contracts to mainly international players who have the expertise to maintain them for certain duration of time.

One terminal at the Mumbai port is being built by the government at an investment of Rs 1.97 billion. This will be tendered for an O&M contract upon completion.

The old terminal, spread across 10,000 sq m and built in 1970, will be demolished and the new terminal will be 10 times as big. The old terminal also houses two 3,000 sq m warehouses used for cargo. The upgradation of the cruise terminal will be done in the next two years.

Mumbai port will be established as the turnaround or home port, and ports in Goa, New Mangalore and Chennai will be ports of call where ships will come in the morning and leave by evening. Vessels cannot stay at a port of call for more than 12 hours.

According to a shipping ministry report, India's total cruise passenger traffic, 80 per cent would be handled by the Mumbai port. In the next 25 years, the Mumbai port will need five terminals because the current passenger traffic of 200,000 is expected to climb to 4 million. Mumbai port will handle 3.2 million cruise passengers.

The decision to award such contracts was preceded by a slew of reforms announced by the government in July last year, to bring changes in the industry which has a high employment generation potential, by simplifying the rules and procedures for cruise port operations.

The reforms are based on the recommendations of a global consultant engaged by the to draw up an action plan for providing a customer-friendly and hassle-free logistics process for the industry, besides developing an enabling ecosystem necessary to promote and sustain cruise shipping in India.

Some of the recommendations given by the consultant include a single-window system for all pre-cruise requirements of operators like the entry of vehicles, personnel and guides. The consultant has also suggested shifting to a digital system for checking of registration and license papers of vehicles at each time.