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State cruises to global tourism map Tourism trail

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New success route: A cruise liner in operation. The routes on offer in the new cruise service include Kochi-Maldives-Kochi and Kochi-Colombo-Kochi.
New success route: A cruise liner in operation. The routes on offer in the new cruise service include Kochi-Maldives-Kochi and Kochi-Colombo-Kochi.

Kerala Tourism signs pact with a leading cruise operator to begin service from Cochin port this December.

Kerala Tourism’s signing of an agreement with a leading cruise operator to commence operations in the country, with Kochi as its homeport, will energise the State’s tourism industry which is reeling under recession. Three-day and one-day cruises will be operated out of Kochi from this December to May 2010, on board mv Aquamarine, a luxury cruise ship that can carry 1,200 passengers. The routes on offer include Kochi-Maldives-Kochi and Kochi-Colombo-Kochi.

Nearly 60,000 travellers are expected to go on the cruise. This will bring economic benefits to the entire State, particularly the hospitality industry. The venture is expected to generate new jobs for the local community.

The stopover at Kochi, for two weeks, for the Volvo Ocean Race is bringing results now. “In fact, the Volvo Ocean Race laid the seeds for this venture,” says Secretary, Tourism, V. Venu.

The agreement to use Cochin port for five years was signed by Oneil Khosa, Managing Director, Louis Cruises India, and M. Sivasankar, director, Kerala Tourism. The pact will help Kochi gain an upper hand on the global cruise tourism circuit. Minister for Tourism Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s request to the cruise operator to give preference to the local people in the recruitment process got immediate response at the MoU signing function. Mr. Khosa consented to the suggestion. Despite lack of facilities for cruise liners, Cochin port is becoming a turnaround port for cruise tourism. The German liner AIDA Cara will be the first luxury liner to operate from Kochi on October 27.

The port trust authorities are now pushing for clearance to set up a cruise terminal to handle cruise liners and to create the requisite infrastructure to handle the tourists. According to Chairman of the Port Trust N. Ramachandran, the proposal of the cruise terminal is pending with the Planning Board. The port’s plan is to build a cruise terminal on 6.71 hectares of land on the North End of Willingdon Island. A 220-metre berth, a world class cruise terminal building, a shopping mall and office tower, a five-star hotel complex and Kerala Village are the highlights of the Rs.375 crore project.

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

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