India will become global leader in cruise tourism soon, says Sonowal, ET TravelWorld
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India will become global leader in cruise tourism soon, says Sonowal, ET TravelWorld


Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal

Global Maritime India Summit, which the country hosted last week for the third time in last seven years, will add more dimensions to the sector’s growth, which is already on an upswing since 2014, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has said. Sonowal, who is the Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, also expressed hope that India will become a global leader in cruise tourism soon given the ecosystem created by the government.

India successfully hosted the third edition of the mega maritime event in the financial capital from October 17-19, with the summit attracting investment proposals worth Rs 10-lakh crore by way of 360 initial pacts reached between various companies both from the private and public sectors.

“I believe this particular global summit is going to add more dimensions to our growth (of the sector). The transportation sector in the last nine-and-a-half years has seen transformation, which is visible also because of the growth,” Sonowal told PTI in an interaction.

The minister said that earlier there were no “excitement” or “initiatives” in many sectors and neither there was any policy or programme, but post-2014, the speed and scale of the growth is being witnessed.

The government has not only created an ecosystem in terms of connectivity and communication but has also started to empower the common man in all aspects, he said.

Citing the example of the World Bank‘s Logistics Performance Index (2023) which saw India jumping 6 places to rank 38th position out of 139 countries, he said this improvement also shows growth.

“How growth will take place unless you have taken some concrete initiative, a concrete programme to be implemented with quality and within a time frame,” he said.

So that is why modernisation, mechanization, digitisation and port-led industrial growth as well as connectivity enhancement besides coastal shipping, and inland waterways are all important verticals that were included in the flagship Sagarmala programme, he added.

Antara bets on shorter itineraries, catamarans to tap domestic demand

The new draft National Tourism Policy augurs well for rapid development of cruise tourism in India as it includes cruise tourism-friendly policies and the government’s plan to open 111 waterways in the country. Indira Banerjee, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Antara River Cruises, spoke to ETTravelWorld about the company’s approach to enhancing the cruise experience and its commitment to sustainability.

Sonowal said that his ministry has identified 809 projects worth Rs 5.6-lakh crore of investment and as many as 222 projects have been completed by spending Rs 1.22, lakh core while the rest are under implementation and will be completed by the stated timeline of 2035. “So now firstly it has been implemented and out of developing this infrastructure facility, ecosystem, growth is taking place,” he said.

Sonowal said that the government has taken a slew of initiatives in ocean, coastal and river cruise segments and “within a short span of time of now, in coastal, river cruise and ocean cruise (segments), India is going to become the world leader.”

“It is because we have already developed infrastructure like international level terminals, cruise terminals. And at many places, as per the requirement of the global tourists we are going to add more value in the (existing) infrastructure,” he said.

He said that India has become a global destination even in the river cruise segment.

  • Published On Oct 23, 2023 at 08:01 AM IST

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