New Delhi, Nov 28(ANI): Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja on Saturday said that with the economy developing at a steady pace, middle class growing in number and increasingly possessing disposable incomes, which could be spent on leisure activities, India could also take on cruise shipping in a big way.
Addressing the media on the occasion of announcing the arrival of luxury cruise ship 'Aquamarine' in India, Selja said that India with its vast and beautiful coastline, virgin forests and undisturbed idyllic islands, rich historical and cultural heritage, can be a fabulous tourist destination for cruise tourists.
The Minister also said that while cruise shipping is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing components of the leisure industry worldwide and emerging as a new marketable commodity with growing rate of 12 percent per annum globally, it is still in its infancy in India and only recently witnessed some activity in the country.
"Cruise shipping world over is seen as employment generating leisure activities. On an average, about 1000 passengers travel on a cruise vessel. When such vessels arrive at a Port, automatically there is demand for a whole lot of services. Thus a cruise call results in gainful employment to a lot of people," Selja said.
"Cruise ships also require bunkers, provisions, bonds stores in large quantities, agency service and crew. All these demands can be met locally. To that extent, there will be contribution to the Indian economy from this sector," she added.
She further said that cruising is a 'supply driven' market, as cruise liners are ever in search of new markets, new itineraries and new destinations.
"If adequate facilities, services and infrastructure are provided, they will in turn attract more and more cruise operators," Selja said.
India's 7,517 kilometre long coastline and strong port positioning imparts a natural advantage to the country to attract international cruise lines, she added.
"India's positioning in South East Asia and its proximity to already popular cruise destinations would enable strong cruise circuits to be created over a period of time. And, India's strong domestic tourism sector would enable the country to achieve a strong domestic cruise sector that could complement the growth and support viability," Selja said. (ANI)