Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru (SP)
Mangaluru, January 27: As the coronavirus infection continues to rage around the world, the central government has yet to give the green light for the arrival of cruise ships in Indian ports. As these ships must be booked a year in advance, in line with current expectations, tourist ships will not be able to start visiting Mangaluru until 2024.
In the past, a ship moving between Mumbai and Goa was operated. However, after the third wave gripped India, the operation of this vessel was also suspended. At the same time, ships are licensed to operate in America where they move to specific continents. Currently, no ships visit Asia.
In the normal course, the tourist boat season here runs in November, December and January. This year, this season is over. If the coronavirus infection recedes by then, the government could authorize the ships by the end of the year. By the time bookings start ships could start visiting, it could be late 2023 or early 2024, officials from the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) have said.
In 2018, 26 foreign ships visited Mangaluru Port and tourists from different countries visited tourist spots around the city. There were agreements for 27 foreign ships to visit Mangaluru and 24 had come by February. At that time, the coronavirus infection took hold of the nation and the arrival of other ships was canceled.
The NMPT has facilities such as docking, emigration center, pre-paid auto, handicraft stalls, Tulunadu folk art, entertainer reception, multi-axle buses to tourist destinations, passenger cars, etc. Foreign tourists generally buy rural products or handicrafts. About 400-500 people used to do business in the form of car and rickshaw drivers, street vendors, etc.
Each passenger spends around 10,000 rupees for passenger vehicles and other purchases. At an average of eight lac rupees per ship, tourists from 24 ships would have spent over 19 crore rupees. Large vessels coming to NMPT are charged Rs 25 lac as a fee. This equates to an income of six to seven crore rupees per year. In total, the district lost a Rs 25 crore business in this sector alone.
Taxi drivers here lament the fact that they no longer get business as tourist ships do not visit the port. They want clearance to be granted to ships as soon as possible so that people who depend on tourists have business and can take care of their families.