4 Sep :The Union Tourism Secretary Sh. S. Banerjee has said that with the recent approval of the policy on cruise shipping, the cruise sector’s latent potential can now be tapped. He was speaking at the inaugural session at the conference on ‘Initiative on Furthering Cruise Tourism In India’ here today.
Sh. Banerjee said that cruise tourism is relatively new but an emerging sector. It is a niche market and is primarily associated with the great potential for stimulating economic growth and generating additional employment. He said the high potential of cruise tourism is strongly borne out by our own experience, where India recorded a 310% increase in cruise tourism visitors between 2002-2006. Following is the full text of Sh. Banerjee’s speech:
“Worldwide, tourism has emerged as a key player in development strategies. Appropriately leveraged, the tourism sector has high potential for delivering sustainable growth with equity while ensuring economic progress. As per projections of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for 2008, the contribution of tourism to world GDP and employment were at 9.9% and 8.4% respectively. World tourism, measured in terms of foreign tourist arrivals, grew at 6.6% in 2007 as compared to 5.5% in 2006. In absolute terms, international tourist arrivals in 2007 reached 903 million. Concomitantly, international tourism receipts grew at 15.4% in 2007 to reach US$ 856 billion. The Asia & Pacific region outperformed the rest of the world in 2007 recording a growth of 10.4% in international tourist arrivals and 20.7% in international tourism receipts.
Within the Asia & Pacific region, India surpassed the regional average in terms of growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE). While arrivals grew at 14.3%, receipts from tourism increased at 24.3% in 2007. In absolute terms, 5.08 million foreign tourists visited India and spent US$ 10.73 billion in 2007. The share of tourism in India’s GDP and employment for 2008 have been projected at 6.36% and 10.17% respectively increasing from 5.83% of the GDP and 8.27% of total employment in 2002-2003.
Encouraged by our strong economic fundamentals, very positive tourism trends and keeping in mind the sectors’ potential for additional employment and revenue generation, we have adopted a target of 10 million FTAs by 2010. It is estimated that this would result in the inflow of approximately an additional US $ 9 billion in FEEs and create 15 million additional jobs.
Tourism in India derives its strength from the immense diversity of its product. India’s civilization and culture reflects her extensive dialogue with other cultures and civilizations of the world through the ages. The range and depth of influences resulting from this dialogue are reflected in all aspects of Indian life that are unique and distinctive. Ancient culture and heritage, immense natural beauty, rich flora and fauna, all make India the favoured destination for the discerning traveler. No one, however, can take in all that India offers in one visit and tourists must return to India repeatedly to experience her different tourism products, not least of them being cruise tourism.
As per estimates of the UNWTO, the Cruise Industry in the world in 2005 was valued at US $ 15.3 billion. It expects to carry in excess of 17 million passengers by 2010, an increase of 70% over 2000 and 54% on 2002. Cruise Tourism is relatively new but an emerging sector. It is a niche market and is primarily associated with hospitality and entertainment with great potential for stimulating economic growth and generating additional employment. The high potential of cruise tourism is strongly borne out by our own experience, where India recorded a 310 % increase in cruise tourism visitors between 2002-2006.
Cruise tourism is a capital intensive industry and the strategic deployment of vessels is driven by the need to maximize yields. More than 50% of the global cruise fleet was designated for European, North American and Caribbean cruising with Asia accounting for a relatively smaller market share of 7% (of the global fleet).
As per the UNWTO Report on ‘World wide Cruise Ship Activities’, in the year 2000 cruise demand in the world was about 10 million trips with North America accounting for almost two-third of it, followed by the European market. That the Rest of the World, including India, accounted for a small share of this demand is an indication of its untapped potential for growth and expansion. As cruise tourism, when commercially packaged, includes all land destinations on the itinerary, apart from activities on the ship itself, the role of ports of call in the creation of the package becomes crucial, with the determining factors being investments in specific facilities and pricing. Both factors would need to be addressed for our regional share to acquire a higher global presence.
For an overview of the Cruise Tourism sector in India, the Ministry of Tourism commissioned CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory for a study on ‘Cruise Tourism Potential and Strategy’. As per its report (December, 2005), India’s cruise tourism potential is based on exotic and historic destinations, extensive coast lines, strong port positioning, and expanding domestic tourism sector. Its positioning in South East Asia would enable creation of cruise circuits that would include Singapore, Bangkok, Colombo and Dubai. The CRISIL report also emphasized that to benefit from these natural strengths, it would be crucial for India to draw lessons from global precedents in the cruise sector and integrate it with lessons from the tourism sector derived over the past decade. The other major recommendations of the Report included building cruise terminals, creating and positioning the product. The focus has to be on capacity building and putting in place policies and institutions to support the cruise sector. With the recent approval of the policy on cruise shipping, the cruise sector’s latent potential can now be tapped.
It is, therefore, both appropriate and timely that FICCI has organized this conference at this juncture. The response, I understand, has been encouraging with the participation of international Cruise Shipping companies, Port Authorities and other stake-holders. I am sure the deliberations here would be meaningful and chart the way for unleashing India’s potential in Cruise Tourism”.