The state government has approved INR 5 billion for the project based on a draft policy from the tourism director for cruise tourism, a tourism ministry official said.
According to the GO issued by the Ministry of Tourism, the proposed cruise tourism will link Kovalam, Kollam, Kochi and Beypore in Kerala with Mangaluru and Goa. A panel of experts, chaired by the chief secretary of the Department of Tourism, was given one month to come up with an amended draft cruise policy after discussions with stakeholders.
The Expert Committee consists of the Director of Tourism as Chair, an officer from the Department of Inland Waterways and Shipping of Kerala and an officer from the Ports Department or the Kerala Maritime Board as members.
Meanwhile, the state’s tourism industry has welcomed the move, saying it will open up a new market for the state. Welcoming the initiative, Jose Dominic, former CEO of CGH Earth, said the water route was the best way to showcase Kerala to the world. “It opens up the state and its tourist resorts to a new big market. There has never been such an initiative in the country. Once the project is implemented, it will serve as an example for others,” he said.
“Thousands will board the cruise ships. And when those folks go back and tell their friends and others about their experiences, it’s going to spark curiosity about the state and the cruise. This will inspire others to travel. Actually it would have been great if a route could be mapped directly from Kutch to Kanyakumari,” he added.
Unlike the cruises currently underway, where large ships come into ports by the thousands, the route marked out by the Department of Tourism would be better served with smaller ships. Rajesh PR, an inbound tour guide, said cruise tourism will boost the tourism industry in all ports where the ships dock. “Kerala has a lot to offer in terms of cruise tourism and it is high time to implement such a project,” he said.
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