Seeing oceanic opportunities

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Updated: October 12, 2015 1:55 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's stand and position on the vitality of the tourism sector was declared loud and clear at the recently held townhall tete-a-tete with the Facebook head honcho

201510etw02Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stand and position on the vitality of the tourism sector was declared loud and clear at the recently held townhall tete-a-tete with the Facebook head honcho. Modi also made another interesting point, when he spoke about adding the fourth D which is ‘Deregulation’ that leads to efficient governance. The government should not be in the business of running businesses and this is said more specifically with respect to the hospitality sector. Private players who are experts in the field should come ahead and do what they are best at – running enterprises which work as profitable ventures. Truly so. The service industry has its peculiarities and require a certain skill set to achieve results. Apart from processes there are certain intangible elements that have to be incorporated as it is one sector that is highly people oriented.

Within this sector, apart from hospitality experiences on land and in the air, hospitality on sea is a segment though well established internationally is yet to set sail in full force in India. The case in question is of the untapped niche tourism potential of the cruising sector. There have been several sporadic efforts by industry organisations and also cruise companies to make some headway but they have failed to gain the right winds to set sail. There is an ocean of opportunity out there, all one has to do is get serious to clear the bottlenecks and breaks for a smooth voyage. India with its more than 7,500 km of coastline dotted with places of interest along with 12 major ports and 184 minor ports imparts a natural advantage to the country to attract international cruise liners.

However, there are laws that need to change to make the cruise experience conducive for Indian passengers, similar to other nationalities. According to experts, the infrastructure currently does not help tap this potential and there are challenges on multiple fronts whether in the form of local transportation options, safeguards against overcharging or even the immigration process itself. In fact, the Cochin port has set the benchmark in providing high quality professional service to cruise calls, which other ports can look to emulate in the future. The efforts to promote cruise tourism include creation of a dedicated cruise cell comprising officials of the port, customs, immigration and Central Industrial Security Force on the one hand and tourism ministry and tour operators, on the other. Our cover story this issue takes a holistic view of this untapped but highly buoyant tourism business vertical. All we need is potential will and private sector vision to get it going across seas.

Reema Lokesh

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