KOCHI: Spectrum of the Seas, the world’s fourth-largest cruise liner, departed Kochi’s shores on Saturday, bringing the eight-month cruise tourism season in the city to an end. The city looked back at it with joy as it has been a robust season for it, having achieved a 25 per cent growth in the last fiscal. There is more good news as 75,000 tourists are likely to reach the city by luxury liners in the current fiscal.
Tour operators said 60 cruise vessels docked in Kochi in the just-concluded season while the number of tourists increased to 62,753.
“The growth of cruise tourism is an encouraging trend for Kerala as it brings a lot of foreigners. The local economy will benefit as most tourists spend heavily,” said Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council secretary S Vijaykumar. He said Kochi has the potential to make it bigger.
“Mostly aged people come to Kochi in cruise vessels. They prefer to see our heritage sites, mainly museums and old buildings at Fort Kochi and Mattanchery. Some of them travel to Alappuzha while others opt for Kumbalangi and Cherai. Most vessels leave the port after docking here for a day,” he said.
Kochi Port’s close proximity to the international sea route is also the reason why more cruise liners reach the city. Ships from Australia-Singapore-Europe prefer Kochi to Mumbai. The authorities believe once the work on the cruise terminal is over, more operators would turn to Kochi.
The Ministry of Tourism had last year sanctioned Rs 106.39 crore for the development of cruise terminal-related infrastructure at the major ports - in Goa, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
“The terminal building, approximately 2,253 sq km, will come up in the Ernakulam wharf area. It can handle cruise ships up to 420 metres in length. The work, carried out under the Cochin Port Trust’s supervision, is expected to get over by the last quarter of the current fiscal,” a tourism officer said.