Soon travel buffs will be able to trace the path of travellers of the past watching the starry nights amid the mighty roars of Arabian Sea, accompanied by a range of dazzling onboard entertainments and wanderlust-fired itineraries. Kerala Tourism is all set to launch cruise tourism connecting Kovalam, Kollam, Kochi, Beypore, Mangalore and Goa, a new gateway to the State through the sea giving a slice of the breathtaking beauty of sand beaches cuddled against rugged coastlines and unexplored long palm-fringed coastal line of Kerala.
The Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited prepared a draft policy for launching cruise tourism and an expert committee has been formed to vet the draft and suggest amendments if any. The cruise tourism draft policy suggests the establishment of new facilities at the existing ports along the Kerala coastal line to tap cruise tourism potential. Through the project, the State plans to introduce a new perspective to Kerala Tourism opening up new visual corridors where one can have novel experiences of the charm of Kerala by a cruise through the pulsating waterways with a different tempo.
“The State will not have to spend much for launching the cruise tourism as it has a long coastline of 580 km with 17 minor and intermediate ports. We just need to uplift the infrastructure and passenger facilities at these ports to facilitate travel. The operation of cruise vessels would be handled by private entities,” said Kerala Tourism Director P.B. Nooh. Once the policy is released, there would not be much delay in launching the project, he added.
Unlike other States, Kerala’s performance as a cruise tourism destination has been enviable as it has a lot of advantages including a combination of natural factors like its strategic location close to major shipping lanes and its attractiveness as a tourist destination, along with the strong brand built up over the past few years. Considering the depth of the Arabian Sea along the Kerala Coast and average draft of cruise ships, the route followed by cruise ships can be 20 km away from the coast, says the draft policy.
The State has already sanctioned ₹5 crore for this project, with ₹50 lakh each for developing infrastructure such as setting up cruise terminals at each port. A well-planned cruise tour itinerary identified by embarkation points, ports of calls, cruise facilities, and shore excursions, combined with air travel and land arrangement can make it more attractive and effective, according to officials.