MUMBAI: The world’s longest ropeway system over the sea might soon connect Mumbai to the Elephanta Caves.

On Saturday, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbanada Sonowal said cruise tourism is one of the most vibrant and fast-growing components of the leisure industry.

He spoke at the 1st Incredible India International Cruise Conference 2022 organised by the Mumbai Port Authority.

He said, “India will be a magnificent cruise destination, and with the participation of global players, we will develop the sector and capture this growing market”. 

Speaking to the media persons, Sonowal announced the setting up of a high-level advisory committee – which would include international cruise lines as members – to assist the Apex committee on Cruise Tourism to deliberate and anchor measures on boosting the cruise tourism sector, especially with an eye on increasing cruise calls at Indian ports, developing infrastructure, and improving the talent availability and jobs.

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Sarbananda Sonowal said that to tackle the talent shortage in the sector, three dedicated cruise training academies will be set up in the states of Goa, Kerala and West Bengal. 

“The Maritime India Vision 2030 aims to generate more than two lakh new jobs”, he said. The minister virtually laid the foundation stone of Third Chemical Berth at Pir Pau, Mumbai. 

In addition, he also virtually inaugurated DGLL’s Kelshi Light House in Maharashtra and Dhanushya Kodi Light House in Tamilnadu. 

Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping & Waterways & Tourism Government of India, said the cruise industry is an emerging industry in India owing to the country’s long coastline. He said that up-gradation and modernisation of the cruise infrastructure are being carried out at Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai and Vizag ports. 

The minister also alluded to the large inland waterways network that makes the country an ideal destination for river cruises. Further, the minister asked the cruise business fraternity to share their expectations and suggestions during the conference. 

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“We will surely work on the takeaways from the discussions to develop a robust cruise tourism ecosystem in the country”, he said. 

Speaking on occasion, Rajiv Jalota, Chairman, Mumbai Port Authority and Mormugao Port Authority, said the current cruise ecosystem, including the infrastructure and policy environment, is fast-changing and will match the international standards within a reasonable time.

He invited international cruise lines to prioritise India in their expansion plans. “Please start making plans for business expansion into India”, he said. The Mumbai Port Authority is also celebrating its 150th anniversary during 2022-23. 

The authority would organise a series of 365 events, including water sports, cultural programmes, awareness camps, heritage walks, and marathon run to celebrate the momentous occasion. Mumbai Port Authority is now aiming to transform from a cargo port to a tourism port.

In this regard, an ultra-modern international cruise terminal is under construction, RO Pax and water taxi transportation services are already operational, and Kanhoji Angre Island Tourism will be soon opened to the public. In addition, the world’s longest ropeway system over the sea will connect Mumbai to the Elephanta Caves. 

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