Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, May 11, 2002
Cochin port wooing cruise liners
Sajeev Kumar V.
KOCHI, May 10
THE arrival of cruise vessels to Cochin port showed a declining trend during last year in the aftermath of the September 11 episode which resulted in a fall in cruise arrivals to the sub-continent.
As against 34 vessels handled during 2000-01, the port had handled on 22 vessels between April 1 to March 31 in 2001-02. This was particularly due to the cancellation of various voyages worldwide after the September 11 incident. In fact, according to the Chairman of the port, Dr Jacob Thomas, during the peak season of September to December last year, only four vessels called at the port.
However, the goodwill generated by the marketing efforts and personalised services rendered by the Cruise Cell constituted by the port, helped in retaining the confidence of cruise liners.
The Chairman is hopeful that sustained marketing efforts would lead to a positive surge in the cruise arrivals to Kochi in the next season.
``We have redefined the concept of cruise marketing, it is no more `handling' of cruise vessels but we `host' cruise vessels. We ensure that they feel secure and at home, particularly in wake of the impression of insecurity created in the minds of travellers,'' Dr Thomas said.
The single window facility offered by the Cruise Cell in close co-ordination with the Customs, Immigration and Port Health Office, tour operations and vessel agents had also started yielding results as it now takes only 15-20 minutes for clearing passenger soon after the docking of a vessel.
To enhance the image and to provide professional services, the port had sought the support of the Shipping Ministry in building a passenger terminal of international standard.
The Kerala Government had also expressed its willingness to be a partner in this endeavour. The port had taken up on behalf of the Tourism Department, renovation and construction of jetties in and around the harbour retaining the traditional aesthetics.
The port is also soliciting leading cruise liners in the region to promote cruise tourism. Discussions were held with the senior officials of Star Cruises, a major cruise liner in the region for building strategic alliance.
As part of marketing promotion efforts, a multi-media presentation on CD titled "Cochin Port The Cruise Destination" has been circulated among leading cruise liners and players in the industry, the Chairman said.
The Deputy Chairman, Mr A. Janardhana Rao, said the port had recently started propagating the concept of Cruise Tourism among the Indian ports.
The initiative taken by CPT has culminated in the constitution of a national-level committee to formulate and promote business promotion measures to develop cruise tourism among the Indian ports.
CPT aims at using this form to promote and perpetuate the idea of "Cruise Circuit" involving the cruise ports in India as well as in Sri Lanka and Maldives, he said.
According to Mr Rao, since Kerala is interspersed with waterways the port authorities are interacting with the Inland Waterways Authorities to develop the inland waterways in the State to evolve an alternate logistics route to offer connectivity to the cargo generated in the port's hinterland as well as to boost tourism to the State.
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