Kerala sets its sights on cruise tourism, invites EoI

Kerala Maritime Board (KBM) has invited EoI from firms to establish coastal cruise services connecting four non-major ports

Published - June 23, 2024 08:13 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

With the post-pandemic travel trends hinting at a growing appetite for travellers to explore the off the beaten tracks, Kerala is now setting its sights on cruise tourism.

The Kerala Maritime Board (KBM) has invited expressions of interest (EoI) from competent firms to establish coastal cruise services connecting four non-major ports and a major port in the State with neighbouring ports on the west and east coasts, along with international cruise services. 

As per the EoI, Kerala is looking for ways to establish the State as a major cruise hub in the south by providing cruise services in different categories, including deep sea and international cruises, domestic inter-state and intra-state services, river and marine cruises linking inland waterways and islands, and day cruises, including sunset cruises and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) etc.

‘An opportunity’

Blessed with a coastline stretching around 590 kilometres along the west coast, Kerala boasts an unparalleled cruise network with a tranquil network of interconnected inland waterways, lakes, and rivers fringed by lush greenery and traditional villages in Kerala’s backwaters, which presents an opportunity to enhance coastal tourism experiences, said N.S. Pillai, chairperson, KMB. 

“We have a major port in Kochi and four non-major ports: Azhikkal, Beypore, Kollam, and Vizhinjam, which received International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS code) certification. Vizhinjam, Beypore and Kollam ports have also received International Check Point (ICP) status. With untapped potential, the State is really ripe with opportunity to cater to the needs of the international cruise industry, said Mr. Pillai. 

Among the ports, Vizhinjam has already hosted over 20 foreign cruise vessels since 2009, bringing in more than 3,350 foreign passengers, while Beypore, with an annual average of 10,000 passengers, serves significant maritime traffic to and from Lakshadweep Islands. Along with these, adding the potential of Kollam port, a historic port town on the Arabian coast, and Azhikkal port in north Kerala, the State can position itselfto tap the potential of the sector, he said. At present, no coastal cruise incentives are offered. However, based on the feedback from the players in the sector, an action plan may be prepared for the development and subsequent stages of the project, said Mr. Pillai.

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