With the aim to support the cruise industry and domestic cruise tourism from the adverse economic impacts due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Shipping Ministry has reduced port tariff rates for cruise vessels.
In a rationalisation of tariff rates, the Ministry has reduced the port charges ranging from 60 per cent to 70 per cent for cruise ships with immediate effect, which will give substantial relief to the cruise industry in India, in line with the government policy to support the economy in the pandemic situation.
The sector has been asking for this relief for some time now and it is expected that the relief would attract larger cruise vessels to ports.
The port charges, a fixed charge paid by shipping operators to port authorities for using its facilities for a cruise ship, will be $0.085 per gross registered tonnage (GRT) instead of $0.35 now, for the first 12 hours it is stationed at the port. While there will be a $5 per passenger tax, other rates such as berth hire, passenger fee, among others will not be levied.
According to the Ministry, for the period exceeding 12 hours stay, the fixed charges on cruise ships will be equal to the Berth Hire Charges payable as per Schedule of Rates with 40% discount as applicable for cruise ships.
Besides, there will be a rebate ranging 10-30% for cruise ships making calls or the number of visits at the port.
According to the Ministry statement, cruise ships making 1-50 calls per year will get 10% rebate, 51-100 calls per year will get 20% rebate and above 100 calls per year will get 30% rebate. This means that the rebate is directly proportional to the number of cruise visits at the port.
With a view to provide support to the cruise shipping business, which has been very adversely affected due to the pandemic, the right policy environment and infrastructure for the growth of cruise shipping and tourism will be provided. Due to policy support by the Shipping Ministry since 2014, the number of calls made by cruise ships in India has increased from 128 in 2015-16 to 593 in 2019-20. This rationalization would also help to ensure that cruise calls at Indian Ports do not dry up completely.
Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has said the decision is the result of the efforts being made by the Ministry of Shipping to convert the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi into reality by putting India on the map of global cruise market, both for ocean and river cruises.
“It will be a big support for the cruise tourism in India, which has suffered tremendously due to the adverse economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide the opportunity to earn huge amounts of foreign exchange and generate sizable direct and indirect onshore employment in the cruise tourism sector of India”, the Minister added.