India Cruise Lines Association (INCLA) approached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) earlier this month, seeking a host of relaxations that could make the domestic sector more attractive for investment and increase ease of doing business in the sector.
The charter of demands included regulatory framework in conjunction with global practices, reduction in Goods and Service Tax (GST), tax holidays to draw foreign capital investments through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), duty-free shopping for cruise shipping and a nodal agency to streamline coordination between different ministries.
In a meeting held on November 8 at the joint secretary level in the PMO, Jurgen Bailom, chairman, INCLA, along with three other members, submitted a White Paper comprising recommendations for the Indian Cruise industry and a letter requesting early resolutions of challenges being faced by industry stakeholders. “We are optimistic that the cruise-tourism sector will be a game-changer for India’s economy,” Mr. Bailom said.
“The global cruising industry is one of the fastest growing segments in the travel and tourism industry and can make a significant contribution to a destination’s economy and local communities. As cruise lines are looking for new destinations, India is fast emerging as a potential destination for the cruise tourism. Especially for the coastal states, considering the vast coastline the country is endowed with, and yet remains unexploited,” he said. Stating that the current GST rate of 18% will have a negative impact on the industry, INCLA sought a reduction to 5% on services of transportation of passengers by cruise ships.
Among the charter of demands submitted, the association also requested for cruise terminal of international standards and other facilities at Porbandar, Dwarka/Okha, Lakshadweep, Andamans, Puducherry, Kollam, Vizag and Kolkata. Given that there are various hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and entertainment centres on the cruise ships, the process of declaration of inventory is a time consuming task, it said. INCLA has recommended that adequate rules must be formulated to ensure that declaration of inventory and stocks and sealing of them is waived for Indian cruise industry.