A cruise passenger facilitation centre inaugurated by Union Minister K. V. Thomas

It is home to the sole full-fledged international marina in India. Now Kochi has another feather on her cap — a cruise-passenger facilitation centre.

While the marina hosts yachts, the cruise facilitation centre will help tourists who travel across the oceans in cruise ships. The centre that that cost nearly Rs 7 crore was inaugurated here recently by Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K.V.Thomas.

The cruise-passenger facilitation centre covers an area of 1,500 sq m and has dedicated Customs and Immigration counters.

It has x-ray scanning machines for baggage, metal detectors, rest rooms, prayer room, and feeding room.

The disabled-friendly terminal also has an acre of parking space for luxury coaches, tourist taxis and autorickshaws.

The minister said the arrival of thousands of tourists on board cruise ships help stakeholders in the sector like hotels, taxi and autorickshaw drivers. Tourism has entered the second phase in Kerala and the State no longer needs to be introduced as a tourism destination. The State is well known as a tourism locale, Mr Thomas said.

He said that tourism projects in the pipeline in Kochi include the Kundanoor-Mattancherry Bridge scenic walkway and the modernisation of the fishing harbour.

In his address, the Minister for Tourism A. P. Anil Kumar said every year there is a spike the number of tourists visiting the state despite economic slump.

In 2011-’12, tourist inflow crossed the 1-crore mark in Kerala. (Over 93 lakh domestic tourists and over 7 lakh foreign tourists).

Chairman of Cochin Port Trust Paul Antony said the arrival of nearly 58,000 cruise tourists to Kochi last year generated revenue worth Rs 60 crore to the State’s exchequer. On an average, a cruise tourist spends $ 200 in the State during the ship’s stopover here for less than a day. Already, 50 day visits by luxury cruise liners has been confirmed, he said.

Last year, 44 ships called at Kochi.

Kochi is the most-preferred cruise destination in India because of her proximity to the international shipping route.

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