The cruise sector in India has finally found a unified voice with the formation of the India Cruise Lines Association (INCLA), bringing together all the stakeholders on a common platform with a vision to create a road map for development of the sector in the country. Notably, in the past few years, cruise travel has emerged as the fastest growing outbound vertical in India. There has been a growing interest largely for sailings from Singapore for first-time cruise travellers and the Mumbai-Maldives sailing by Costa Cruises since the past two seasons, along with a number of ships calling on the Indian ports. In this scenario, there was a sentiment that time is opportune to come together and make a representation to the government of the all encompassing benefits of cruising to develop the sector in India with a dedicated time-frame and bring in foreign investment to meet the desired goals. As a first step in this direction, INCLA is set to organise a mega event, ‘Global Cruise Conclave’ in Mumbai on August 30 at the Grand Hyatt. The event will be graced by Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport Highways & Shipping and Water Resource, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India and Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Essel and ZEE Group.
In order to give a shot in the arm to the domestic cruise sector in India, it is imperative to improve port infrastructure as well as offer hassle-free soft services to the passengers. Moreover, for the sector to grow at a fast pace, investment from global cruise players has to flow in, along with a need for a dedicated tax structure. With these concerns in mind, stakeholders of the cruise sector in India – cruise liners and PSAs came together to create a non-aligned forum in association with TravelBiz Monitor magazine to present a charter of suggestions and demands through a White Paper to the Shipping Minister at the Global Cruise Conclave in a first-ever unified move by the industry towards growing cruising in India.
According to Jurgen Bailom, Convener, INCLA, “India is in a similar position as China was some years ago and so was Brazil; it is the domestic cruise market that needs to be developed for the industry to grow. The order of the day is to come together as an association and take quick steps to develop the market in India since globally, cruising is a USD 51 billion net profit industry. India has the potential to reach USD 20 billion net profit cruise industry. However, currently, India is not among the top 10 global cruise markets.”
Ratna Chadha, Chairperson, INCLA said, “India is the only country that allows multiple destinations within a country. This is a unique position, and we are wasting the opportunity. The number of ships making a port of call in India is hardly 40, and worrisome. A nation like Croatia with a population of 48,000 residents has 400 ships making port of calls.”
According to Nalini Gupta, Executive Committee Member, INCLA, “It is crucial to make the Ministry of Finance aware about the benefits of cruise tourism. The situation in the cruise sector today is exactly the position of airlines was in the 1990s.”
Hemal Zobalia, Executive Committee Member, INCLA, said, “Each of the cruise lines in India is making an individual effort to create awareness, but a unified body like INCLA brings together a weight age to create a unique position, especially about cabotage taxation.”
As a first step, INCLA has formed a Core Committee that will take forward its agenda.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF INCLA
- Jurgen Bailom, President & CEO, Zen Cruises
- Ratna Chadha, Chief Executive, TIRUN Travel Marketing, India Representative of Royal Caribbean International
- Rajiv Duggal, CEO – Tourism Business, ESSEL Group
- Naresh Rawal, VP – Sales, Genting Cruise Lines
- Manoj Singh, Country Head, Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings – India
- Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Destinations, GSA Costa Cruises India
- Kunal Sampat, General Manager – India, MSC Cruises
- Captain Nitin Dhond, Managing Director, Angriya Sea Eagle Pvt. Ltd.
- Siddharth Newalkar, Director, Angriya Sea Eagle Pvt. Ltd.
- Mark Mendes, Country Director – India, Discover the World, PSA to Carnival Cruises
- Anju Tandon, Director, Ark Travels
- Pradeep Saboo, CEO, Guideline Travels LLP
- Ian Banerjee, Founder & Director, Global Anchor Cruises
- Kiran Bhandari, Co Founder, Cruise Club
- Saud Masood, Deputy General Manager, Wholesale & Leisure Product, FCM Travels
- Amentha Marques, Business Development Manager – West India, Avalon Waterways
- Harshali Darpel, Senior Manager Business Development, Cruise Professionals
- Hemal Zobalia, Partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP
- Sheldon Santwan, Editor & COO, TravelBiz Monitor