Port Wings News Network:
A new Cruise Terminal having facilities to handle 5000 tourists will come up at Ernakulum Wharf of Cochin Port by February 2020. Cochin Port Trust has issued work order to the contractor on 20 July 2018 for commencing the construction of the new Cruise Terminal.
The facilities inside the Terminal, having 2253sq mtrs area, would include passenger lounge, crew lounge, 30 immigration counters, 8 customs clearance counters, 7 security check counters, Wi-Fi, tourist information counter, duty free shopping, souvenir/artefact/curio shops, medical care, book store, mini conference hall, gaming zone, ATM/bank services, foreign exchange counter, cafeteria, luggage counter, toilets, parking area for buses and cars, trolleys, wheel chairs etc. The estimated cost of construction of the terminal is Rs 25.72cr and of this Rs 21.41cr has been sanctioned as grant by Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India.
In the recent years the Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Tourism have jointly taken several initiatives to promote cruise tourism in India. This includes rationalization of tariff for cruise vessels to a subsidized composite tariff, exemption of cruise tourists arriving with e-visa from the requirement of bio-metric enrolment, constitution of Task force under the joint chairmanship of Secretary – Tourism and Secretary – Shipping, Government of India, implementation of Standard Operating Procedures etc.
Being one of the prime cruise tourism destinations in India, Cochin has been getting around 40 cruise liners every year bringing tens of thousands of high net worth international tourists to Kerala. Cochin Port Trust has been promoting cruise tourism in Cochin as it is beneficial for the local tourism trade and economy. It is estimated that every cruise tourist spends on an average 400 US Dollars per day during local visits. In order to support local trade Cochin Port Trust has been offering space to local tourism entrepreneurs inside the wharf during cruise arrivals at a very nominal rate to facilitate kiosks/ stalls for selling handicrafts/ curios to the tourists.
Currently cruise vessels having length upto 260mtrs are handled at the BTP berth and Samudrika, the cruise passenger facilitation centre. However, vessels having length more than 260mtrs are handled at Ernakulam Wharf. It is in this context the new cruise terminal has been envisaged at Ernakulam Wharf. Ministry of Tourism has been supporting Cochin Port Trust in developing tourism infrastructure in the port area. This includes Rs.4.61 Crores for developing Samudrika, cruise passenger facilitation centre, Rs.9.01 Crores for developing 2.1 kms waterside walkway between BOT bridge and Kannaghat bridge in Willingdon Island and Rs.21.39cr for developing dedicated cruise berthing facilities at BTP.