Kochi to become world class cruise destination

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WELCOME VISITORS: Pacific Princess, the first cruise vessel of the current tourist season to call at the Kochi port.
WELCOME VISITORS: Pacific Princess, the first cruise vessel of the current tourist season to call at the Kochi port.

Staff Reporter

Success of Ocean Race prompts Centre to provide Rs. 15 crore to improve tourism facilities

KOCHI: The Kochi port’s ambitions of becoming a world class cruise destination has received a boost with Kochi being rated high among the recreational port destinations in the world.

According to Cochin Port Trust sources, Kochi ranks top among the 11 ports across the world that hosted and will host Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09.

Kochi hosted the Volvo Ocean Race for two weeks from December 3 and the stopover was described as a grand success both by the race teams and by the Volvo Ocean Race management.

The success of the event prompted the Union government to provide a grant of Rs. 15 crore directly to the port trust to improve tourism facilities on the premises, said an official of the port trust.

The money is going to improving existing facilities and building new ones for the purpose making Kochi more prepared for its future role as a major cruise destination.

The grant was a pleasant surprise given that several agencies, including the State government have been submitting proposals for building new and improving the existing tourism facilities.

The Union government grant came in even as the port trust authorities have firmed up the documents on public-private partnership for the nearly Rs. 400-crore International Cruise Terminal.

According to port trust sources, the documents will soon be sent to the Public-Private Partnership Appraisal Committee for its approval.

The Cochin Port Trust has appointed a professional consultant for guiding it on evaluating, selecting and awarding of the work for the cruise terminal.

The agency will assist the port trust throughout the remaining course of awarding the work for the project, envisaged as a public-private partnership.

The port’s plan is to build a cruise terminal on 6.71 hectares of land earmarked for the purpose on the North End of Willingdon Island. There will be a modern berth of 220 metres length, a world class cruise terminal building, a shopping mall and office tower, a five-star hotel complex as well as a Kerala Village.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 375 crore and the annual passenger handling capacity is 3.5 lakh.

The feasibility report and business plan for the project was completed in March last year.

The transaction advisor for helping the port in calling for tenders and evaluation was appointed in June. The port authorities are hopeful that the facility can be commissioned in the second half of 2011.

Meanwhile, the number of cruise vessels calling at the Kochi port stands at 37 so far during the current financial year. Twelve vessels care expected to call at the port in the coming weeks and this include Queen Mary II and Queen Victoria, port trust sources said.



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