– Manas Dasgupta
NEW DELHI, August 14: In line with the central government’s policy to support the economy hit by the Corona pandemic, the union ministry of shipping on Friday announced rationalization of port tariff rates for cruise vessels reducing the charges from 60 to 70 per cent providing substantial relief to the cruise industry in the country.
According to an official spokesman of the shipping ministry, the port charges for a cruise ship had been reduced to $0.085 per Gross Registered Tonnage from the present $0.35 per GRT for the first 12 hours stay at Fixed Rate and $5 per passenger as Head Tax. For the period exceeding 12 hours stay, the fixed charges on cruise ships would be equal to the Berth Hire Charges payable as per Schedule of Rates (SOR) with 40 per cent discount as applicable for cruise ships. The Ports will not charge any other rate like berth hire, port dues, pilotage, passenger fee, etc.
In addition, the cruise ships making up to 50 calls at any port in India per year would get a further rebate of 10 per cent, between 50 and 100 calls a year 20 per cent and more than 100 calls per year would get rebate of 30 per cent. The spokesman said the new tariff rates would come into force with immediate effect and would be in operation for a period of one year.
The spokesman said the reduction in rates would provide a great support to the shipping industry which had been adversely hit by the COVID pandemic the world over. He said due to the right policy environment and infrastructural support provided to the shipping and tourism industry since 2014, the number of calls made by the cruise ships in India had increased from 128 in 2015-16 to 593 last year. “This rationalization would also help to ensure that cruise calls at Indian Ports do not dry up completely,” the spokesman said.
Speaking on the rationalization move, the union minister of state for shipping Mansukh Mandaviya said the decision was the result of the efforts being made by his ministry to convert the vision of the prime minister Narendra 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 also provide an opportunity to earn huge amount of foreign exchange and generate sizeable direct and indirect onshore employment in cruise tourism sector in India,” he added.