August 22, 2023: To position India as a preferred destination for cruise tourism globally, the Ministry of Tourism has drafted a National Strategy for Cruise Tourism.
The government has an ambitious vision of increasing the number of cruise passengers from 300,000 in in 2023 to 4 million by 2041. The potential of the sector is projected to rise from Rs 712 crore to Rs 35,500 crore by 2041.
The Ministry partnered with Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways during the 1st Incredible India International Cruise Conference, in Mumbai in May 2022. The conference showcased abundant business opportunities in cruise tourism sector including river cruising. The conference was attended by more than 300 delegates including major global cruise lines viz, MSC, Carnival, RCCL, Costa, Cordelia, Holland America group etc.
Cordelia is the pioneering Indian ocean cruise line
The infrastructure developed for transportation on National Waterways (NWs) by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) including fairway, terminals, jetties, navigation aids etc. are used by the river tourism operators
The World's Longest River Cruise on 13th January 2023 from Varanasi on NW-1 (River Ganga) to Dibrugarh NW-2 (River Brahmaputra) via Bangladesh, has been successfully completed by covering waterway distance of 3200 km approx. on 28.02.2023 at Dibrugarh, Assam.
In 2021, India's first dedicated cruise terminal,Sagarika, was opened on Willingdon Island, Kochi.
More photos for this report here
India has taken Cruise Tourism promotion and campaign to International Cruise events by actively participating in International forums like Sea-Trade Miami, Dubai etc.|
Why Cruise Tourism is crucial for India
Extracts from the draft National Policy on Cruise Tourism, Govt of India, Ministry of Tourism, June 2023
In 2022, it was estimated that the global cruise Tourism market was around $ 8 bn and the Indian market was estimated at around $ 100 million which was an estimated share of around 1%, despite all the competitive advantages India has globally in cruise tourism.
India has significant capabilities in cruise tourism for coastal & river sector. This is due to the presence of 12 Major and 200 Minor Ports along the 7500 km long coastline across the west and east and a network of more than 20,000 kilometers long navigable 110 waterways connecting around 400 rivers
There are multiple states, union territories and 1300 islands in India which are along the coastline or along the banks of states and interstate rivers or national waterways.
The Indian cruise tourism sector is currently centered around and developed in the following main cruise segments: (i) Coastal Tourism (Domestic and Multi nation) (ii) Ocean Cruises (International Cruise) (iii) River Cruise Tourism (Inland waterways) (iv) Island and Coastal Assets.
Ocean Cruises – International Cruises
India has the unique advantage of an enormous coastline, which currently has 8-10 major ports which can cater to Ocean and deep-sea cruising, which is a fast-growing tourism segment globally.
The ports of Mumbai, Mormugao, Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, Kolkata, Porbandar, Diu, Somnath are under various stages of international cruise operations & development as India is on route to many international cruise ships.
Rivers Cruises -Inland waterways: India is blessed with natural beauty of almost 400 rivers through 110 national waterways covering an estimated 20,000 kms of length.
Most of these national waterways are single or dual state with some which are across more than two states such as NW1 of 1600 km which stretches across UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, NW4 of 1000 km which stretches across AP, TN & Puducherry, NW 45 of 600 km across Haryana, Punjab & Rajasthan.
These river tourism assets weave through India’s natural, cultural, historic, heritage and architectural beauty thus creating a vast tourism segment waiting to be tapped systematically and sustainably.
Mandovi River Cruise in Goa
For example just the river cruise tourism on National Waterway -68 across the Mandovi river in Goa has the potential to touch Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Santa Monica Jetty, nearby beaches of Anjuna, Baga, Calangute and Candolim and other such natural, pilgrim and cultural assets.
This has the potential to develop the blue revolution in Goa, which will enable seamless “ship to ship”, experiences of the heritage and culture, on water by curtailing valuable time spent on traversing the state on road and enhancing the opportunity to contribute to the the state’s economy.
Islands & Coastal Assets: India has an estimated 1300 islands with almost half across Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshwadeep, Dadar & Nagar Haweli & Daman & Diu. States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam and even in J&K.
India also has immense coastal assets which include almost 200 lighthouses, coast side museums, coastal and river banks and embankments.
Full Text of the Draft National Strategy for Cruise Tourism PDF here