KOCHI: It’s the apt season to welcome tourists to Kerala. The Cochin port realises this, too.
This year, the port is gearing up to play host to more luxury cruise ships which will dock here carrying tourists from across the globe. The port is expecting a call from nearly 50 ships this year against last year’s 46.
For international cruise liners, Kochi has always been a hot spot thanks to its proximity to the international sea route and a scenic harbour.
Since each cruise ship sailing into the port from international waters brings with it thousands of tourists whose spending capability is much higher than their Indian counterparts, tourism entrepreneurs in and around the city and in nearby districts also reap benefits of the ships’ short stay at the port as the passengers visit various places during the period.
As for the Cochin Port, there has been a rise in the number of visiting vessels. In the last five years, 193 ships dropped anchors at the port. The annual figures, however, rose and dipped like waves since 2012-13. In that year, 40 ships docked at the port. This reduced to 34 in 2013-14, only to rise to 39 in 2014-15.
The following year, that is 2015-16, it nosedived to 34 before achieving its highest ever number of ships – 46 – in 2016-17.
The vessel traffic at the port is followed by the traffic at Mumbai, Panaji, and Mangalore ports. The number of ships docking at the port is likely to increase once the proposed international cruise terminal becomes operational by late next year.
Being built by the Cochin Port Trust, the international cruise terminal will come up at the Ernakulam Wharf and have modern passenger amenities. This will be in addition to the existing cruise passenger facilitation centre, Samudrika, adjacent to BTP Berth.The Cochin Port has a dedicated cruise cell comprising officers specifically deployed for cruise operations.
Among their duties is arranging the pre-arrival planning meeting and providing single window facility for issuing passes to coaches, guides and other associated persons. To make matters more lucrative, the port is offering 65 per cent concession on vessel-related charges for cruise ships and 30 per cent discount on berth hire and pilot services, besides 24-hour security for ships.