To support cruise industry hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has rationalised tariff rates for cruise vessels that would reduce port charges by 60-70 per cent, the Ministry of Shipping said on Friday. The move is also aimed at boosting the pandemic-hit economy.
Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said it would be huge boost to cruise tourism in India in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of putting the country on the global cruise map. The Ministry said in a statement that it has rationalised tariff rates for cruise vessels plying on the rivers and oceanic waters of India.
"The net effect of the rate relaxation would be an immediate reduction in port charges ranging from 60 per cent to 70 per cent, which will give substantial relief to the cruise industry in India, in line with government policy to support the economy in COVID-19 pandemic situation," the statement said. The decision will provide support to the cruise industry and domestic cruise tourism against the economic impact of the pandemic, Mandaviya said.
He said the decision is the result of the efforts being made by the shipping ministry to convert the vision of Prime Minister Narendraa 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 amount of foreign exchange and generate sizeable direct and indirect onshore employment in cruise tourism sector of India," the minister said.
The rationalised tariff rates for cruise vessels include port charges at "USD 0.085 per GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage) instead of USD 0.35 of current rate, for first 12 hours stay (Fixed Rate) and USD 5 per passenger (Head Tax). The Ports will not charge any other rate like berth hire, port dues, pilotage, passenger fee, etc," the statement said. For the period exceeding 12-hour stay, the fixed charges on cruise ships will be equal to the Berth Hire Charges payable as per SOR (Schedule of Rates) with 40 per cent discount as applicable for cruise ships, the statement said.
Further, cruise ships making 1-50 calls per year will get 10 per cent rebate, ships making 51-100 calls per year will get 20 per cent rebate and ships making above 100 calls per year will get 30 per cent rebate. The rationalised tariff shall be immediately effective for a period of one year.
The tariff, it said has been rationalised with a view to provide support to the cruise shipping business, which has been adversely affected due to the pandemic. Due to policy support by the 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, the statement said.
This rationalisation would also help to ensure that cruise calls at Indian Ports do not dry up completely, it added.