The Ministry of Shipping has rationalised port tariff rates for cruise vessels. The net effect of the rate relaxation would be an immediate reduction in port charges ranging from 60-70 per cent, which is likely to provide major relief to the cruise industry in India.
The move is in line with the government policy to support the economy in the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) said the decision was the result of the efforts being made by his ministry to convert the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi into reality by putting India on the map of the global cruise market, both for the ocean and river cruises.
“It will be a big support for cruise tourism in India, which has suffered tremendously due to the adverse economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide the opportunity to earn a huge amount of foreign exchange and generate sizeable direct and indirect onshore employment in the cruise tourism sector of India,” the minister observed.
According to a ministry release, the revised charges for a cruise ship will be at $0.085 per gross registered tonnage (GRT) instead of $0.35 of the current rate, for the first 12 hours stay (fixed rate) and $5 per passenger (head Tax). The ports will not charge any other rate like berth hire, port dues, pilotage, passenger fee, etc.
For the period exceeding 12 hours stay, the fixed charges on cruise ships will be equal to the berth hire charges payable as per the schedule of rate (SOR), with a 40 per cent discount as applicable for cruise ships.
Further, cruise ships making 1-50 calls per year will get a 10 per cent discount, 51-100 calls per year, a 20 per cent discount and above 100 calls per year, a 30 per cent discount.
The above rationalised tariffs shall be immediately effective for a period of one year.
With a view to providing support to the cruise shipping business, which has been very adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the right policy environment and infrastructure for the growth of cruise shipping and tourism will be provided. Due to policy support by the shipping ministry since 2014, the number of calls made by cruise ships in India has increased from 128 in 2015-16 to 593 in 2019-20.
This rationalisation would also help to ensure that cruise calls at Indian ports do not dry up completely.