Earlier this month, the nation of India announced that cruise ships would once again be permitted to sail to the country beginning on October 1st. Realizing that cruise lines are scrambling to stay afloat, the country also decided to do them a big favor when it comes to port tariff fees. The Indian Government has reduced those fees by 60-70% for cruise ships visiting ports across the country.
Maharashtra’s ‘Mission Begin Again’
The region of Maharashtra on India’s west coast is home to Mumbai, the country’s largest city by population. The region was hit hard by COVID-19 in the spring, but a slow and strict recovery process has been mostly effective. However, the economic toll of the virus remains a looming issue. Reducing port fees is part of Maharashtra and the Indian Government’s ‘Mission Begin Again’ campaign which outlines the reopening of the economy piece by piece.
We are confident that the travel industry will bounce back
Jurgen Bailom, Chairman of the India Cruise Lines Association (INCLA), expressed optimism that the industry can rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and help tourism return to his country.
“The current upheaval caused by the pandemic has resulted in several challenges and has adversely affected tourism and the cruising sector. While we eagerly wait to begin sailing in November, the Shipping Ministry’s announcement to reduce berthing charges to promote tourism increases our optimism and confidence that our industry will get back on its feet in no time at all,” he said. “We would like to express our gratitude and thank the Government and the Union Minister of State of Shipping, Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya for introducing this measure and assisting us during these trying times. This is a step in the right direction as it will help boost domestic cruise tourism”.
Mr. Bailom continued.
“The cruise industry appreciates the efforts, and is indeed grateful for this initiative, which no other country has implemented so far by such a margin. This news comes as a breath of fresh air. We are confident that the travel industry will bounce back, with a few adjustments in the post-COVID-19 world where global travel restrictions and changing consumer preference will provide the impetus to domestic tourism. As we all prepare to start cruising operations in November this year, we will rise to the occasion and create greater value for all our customers”.
Cruising’s Popularity in India
According to statistics provided by INCLA, the number of calls to the country by cruise ships have increased substantially in the past five years. 2015-2016 saw 128 calls to the country while 2019-2020 saw 593. With many countries still closed to cruise lines, an open country with reduced fees could be mighty attractive for cruise lines struggling to make ends meet financially.
The decision is expected to help Jalesh Cruises, India’s only large-ship cruise line. The line has plans to resume operation in November.
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