Port Wings News Network:
The foundation stone for the International Cruise Terminal at the Ernakulam Wharf of Cochin Port was laid by Shri Alphons Kannanthanam, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism on 28 July 2018.
The function held at Ernakulam Wharf was attended by Prof. K. V. Thomas, Hon’ble MP, Prof. Richard Hay, Hon’ble MP, Shri Hibi Eden, Hon’ble MLA, Shri K. J. Maxi, Hon’ble MLA, Smt.Soumini Jain, Hon’ble Mayor and Shri. A.V. Ramana, Chairman (i/c), Cochin Port Trust.
The new International Cruise Terminal, having 2253sq mtrs area, would be equipped to handle up to 5000 tourists.
The facilities inside the Terminal would include passenger lounge, crew lounge, 30 immigration counters, 8 customs clearance counters, 7 security check counters, wifi, 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.
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 a social obligation to support the local economy.
Visit of cruise vessels have been highly beneficial to the local tourism trade and economy as it is estimated that every cruise tourist spends on an average 400 US Dollars per day during visit to local places. 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 of Cochin Port. 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. The construction of new Terminal is expected to be completed by February 2020.
In the recent years the Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Tourism have jointly taken several initiatives to promote cruise tourism in India. This include 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, Govt of India, implementation of Standard Operating Procedures etc.
Ministry of Tourism has been supporting Cochin Port Trust in developing tourism infrastructure in the port area. This include 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.