New Delhi, June 26 : The Union Cabinet toady gave its approval for the adoption of the Cruise Shipping Policy of India.
Cruise Shipping would be a path breaking development in India's effort to carve a prominent space in world tourism.
It would showcase India as a major source and destination of world tourism and would spill out growth in diverse other sectors thereby earning precious foreign exchange for the country.
It will also generate enormous employment opportunities. Cruise tourism would promote people to people contact which will enhance India's friendly ties with foreign countries.
'Cruise Shipping' is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing components of the leisure industry worldwide. It is fast emerging as a new marketable commodity/product. Growing at the rate of 12 per cent per annum globally, this sector has witnessed some activity in India in recent times.
"Cruise Ships' are like moving township studded with state of art facilities and variety of recreational activities. The idea is fast catching up, as journey ion board cruise liners is not only pleasurable, but also comparatively free from sea travel health hazards.
Experience in the Caribbean, Latin American and South-East Asian countries indicate that huge amount of foreign exchange can be earned and employment can be provided onshore by providing the right policy environment and infrastructure for the growth of cruise shipping.
Cruises are not longer considered as the privilege of the rich and the elderly and today more and more young tourists are cruising. This industry annually generates US14 billion dollars worldwide and enjoys a passenger base of over 10 million, which is expected to almost double by 2009.
India's share is only 2 per cent. As regards number of cruise ships, projections/forecasts are that the number will increase from the present 257 to 285 by 2009.
India with its vast and beautiful coastline, virgin forests and undisturbed idyllic island, rich historical and cultural heritage, can be fabulous tourist destination for cruise tourists.
With the Indian economy developing at a steady pace, middle class growing in number and increasingly possessing disposal incomes which could be spent on leisure activities, Indians could also take on cruise shipping in a big way.