C. Jaishankar

RAMANATHAPURAM: The State Tourism department plans to introduce cruise tourism to cash in on the increasing trend of tourists opting for cruise travel.

The ambitious move is expected to get shape in the next few months and is expected to provide a major boost to the Tamil Nadu’s tourism and marine industries.

V. Irai Anbu, Secretary, Tourism, told The Hindu on Sunday, “There is a great demand for cruise tourism in the country. Since the State Tourism has the reputation of pioneering new tourism initiatives, we have planned to start cruise tourism. A detailed discussion has been conducted”.

Since it required a lot of expertise for the State tourism to operate vessels on its own, private parties could be roped in, he said. Chennai-Puducherry was among the proposed routes.

A.C. Mohandoss, Director of Tourism and Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (TTDC), said the idea was to operate cruise boats to cover 120 km from the shore. The boats could attain a speed of 60 nautical miles and could be operated from bigger ports. It was expected to get good patronage from the tourists.

He said that it was necessary to take approval from the Indian Navy, Port Trusts, Tamil Nadu Maritime Board and other agencies.

A series of procedures had to be followed for operating cruise boats. Necessary facilities to operate boats from ports were needed. Efforts were on to meet these requirements.

He added that importance was being given to promote eco-tourism. A separate wing had been started for this. Since it required the cooperation of Forest Department, an Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest level officer had been appointed to explore the possibility of promoting eco-tourism potential centres. Efforts were on to seek the cooperation and integration of other departments to start tourism initiatives.

Infrastructure

The Director said the State had a large number of facilities for adventure tourism and stood next only to Goa. Parasailing, bungee jumping, scuba diving, archery and others had been introduced in Beach Resort Complex in Mamallapuram and Island Ground. Though the tourism industry had been hit in various countries due to global recession, the TTDC-run hotels were not affected at all. The average occupancy rate was being maintained.

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