Continuing with its endeavour to serve the cruise industry better, Cochin Port Authority is going ahead with its plan for the development, operation and management of Sagarika Cruise Terminal and Tourism Plaza on PPP or land lease model.

An expression of interest (EOI) has been invited from investors or experienced, resourceful firms with proven technical and financial capabilities, who have experience in operation and management of cruise terminals or development and management of infrastructure, or activities related to tourism. The port authority is expecting the potential investors to have business tie ups with ports, shipping lines, vessel agents or logistics business which will help in bringing cruise traffic to the port.

With the objective of promoting cruise tourism, projects like setting up hotels, exhibition centres, recreational facilities and other business facilities that woo tourists to the port are being planned.

The total area envisaged for the project is 5.57 hectares in Sagarika Terminal and adjoining areas inside the Customs Bonded area. The proposed project will have two revenue sources — income generated from handling cruise passengers in the form of head tax and by providing ancillary services.

Post-pandemic recovery

According to official sources, the port handled 36,403 passengers in FY23 and 31 cruise ships anchored during this period. This, however, is a sizeable dip following the pandemic(compared to 44 ships in 2019-20), but the cruise industry is on a recovery path with a rise in numbers. The cruise business was one of the first fatality of the pandemic and its revival would offer a boost to the local economies and generate significant employment.

Industry sources say Kerala’s inclusion in the list of 52 must-visit places in the world in 2023 by The New York Times augurs well for wooing cruise ships to Kochi. For the next two years, around 55 cruise liners have already confirmed its arrival. The promotion of cruise tourism would help in spurring up economic engagements in the hinterland and offer job opportunities for tour operators, taxis and foreign exchange earnings.