Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (SP)
Mangaluru, Jan 27: As coronavirus infection continues to rage all over the world, the central government has not yet given its nod for the arrival of cruiser ships into Indian ports. As these ships are to be booked a year in advance, as per the current expectations, tourist ships may begin to visit Mangaluru only in 2024.
In the past, a ship moving between Mumbai and Goa was being operated. However, after the third wave gripped India, the operation of this ship also has been suspended. At the same time, ships are permitted to be operated in America where they are moving in specific continents. Currently no ships are visiting Asia.
In normal course, tourist ships season here is during November, December and January. This year, this season has passed. If the coronavirus infection recedes by then, the government might give permission for the ships by the year end. By the time bookings start, ships may begin to visit, it might be at the end of the year 2023 or early 2024, officials of New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) said.
In the year 2018, 26 foreign ships had visited Mangaluru port and tourists from different countries had toured tourist spots around the city. There were agreements for 27 foreign ships to visit Mangaluru and 24 had come till February. By then, coronavirus infection gripped the nation and the arrival of other ships was cancelled.
NMPT has facilities like berthing, emigration centre, prepaid auto, handicraft stalls, folklore art of Tulunadu, welcome by artistes, multi axle buses to tour tourist destinations, tourist cars etc. The foreign tourists usually buy rural products or handicrafts. About 400 to 500 people used to get business in the form of car and auto rickshaw drivers, street vendors etc.
Every passenger spends around Rs 10,000 towards tourist vehicles and other purchases. At an average of eight lac rupees per ship, tourists from 24 ships would have spent over Rs 19 crores. Big ships coming to NMPT are charged Rs 25 lac by way of fee. This works out to a revenue of six to seven crore rupees a year. In total, the district lost a business of Rs 25 crore in this sector alone.
The taxi drivers here lament the fact that now they are not getting any business as tourist ships are not visiting the port. They want permission to be given to ships as soon as possible so that the people who are dependent on tourists get some business and are able to look after their families.