The near-term goal is to encourage tourists who would otherwise be boarding cruises from Dubai or Singapore to onboard cruises from Indian destinations, shipping ministry officials aware of the plan told ET.
In line with the plan, the Centre is encouraging setting up of cruise terminals to improve passenger experience in the country’s coastline ports, which are currently focused on transporting goods, one of the officials said.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council recently gave a conditional and limited duration waiver to foreign flag foreign-going vessels converting to coastal run from the 5% integrated goods and services tax (IGST).
“This IGST waiver has made it viable for companies like Costa Cruises to bring their luxury vessels to Indian shores,” Nalini Gupta, managing director of Lotus Destinations – a representative of Costa Cruises in India, told ET.
Costa Cruises will have for the first time an international cruise liner stationed in India for a two-month period. “The biggest attraction is international sailing experience without having the hassles of travelling abroad, hence no visa or passport will be required,” Gupta said.Sarbananda Sonowal, union minister of ports, shipping, and waterways, told ET, “The Costa Cruises initiative has been driven by the Dekho Apna Desh initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This move will encourage other cruise operators to follow their lead and boost job creation in India.”The Italy-headquartered Costa Cruises – making a comeback after a four-year Covid-induced hiatus – offers cruises under brands including Carnival Cruises, Seaborne, Aida Cruises, P&O Cruises (Australia), Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard.