In a bid to promote cruise ship tourism in the country, the government is planning to offer major tax exemptions to Indian firms chartering cruise ships. This is part of the countrys first ever cruise ship policy already circulated to various ministries.
We have proposed to give various incentives including tax breaks to the cruiseliners. The policy is likely to be finalised in a couple of months, a shipping ministry official said. The ministry has also planned to build dedicated cruise terminals of international standards all across the west coast of the country.
According to an estimate, the total number of cruise tourists all over the world stands at 15 million, of which Indian tourists comprise just 1% or 1.5 lakh. The total number of cruise passengers in the Asia-pacific region is projected to grow by more than 40% to 1.5 million by 2010.
About 75% cruise tourists in India go for small voyages such as four nights and six nights. Unlike in India, cruise tourists in countries such as the US, the UK and Canada go for longer voyages ranging from three months to four months. Cruiseliners in India generally charge Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 a night depending upon different ticket categories.
Infrastructure related hurdles such as inadequate terminal facilities for cruise ships have been a major hurdle in the growth of cruise tourism in the country. There is just one dedicated cruise terminal at Mumbai in the country and that too is very difficult to access as you have to take at least 15 permissions before reaching the terminal, Royal Caribbean India representative Gautam Chadha said.
But once the necessary infrastructure and conducive tax regime are in place, the sector would be on fast track, he added.