As many as 54 cruise ships are scheduled to arrive in Kochi during the ongoing financial year, earning Kerala a whopping Rs 145 crore as revenue. It is estimated that around one lakh visitors would step down from the ships to the state. This figure includes travellers and ship employees.
The previous financial year, 49 cruise ships had reached Kochi. They had carried 91,581 visitors – 62,753 passengers and 28,828 employees. Majority of the passengers in cruise liners are affluent citizens of the US and Europe who do not hesitate to spend lavishly in places they visit. According to estimates, each foreign passenger in a cruise vessel would spend an average 200 US dollars in Kerala. This covers expenses for enjoying the sights at places such as Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Kumarakom, Vaikom, and Munnar.
In fact, the number of cruise liners making a call at Kochi is witnessing an increase and the port tops the country in this regard. Of the 54 liners set to reach the port this year, 15 have already arrived, including AIDAvita and Costa Victoria. Eight hundred passengers, mostly from south Indian states, also boarded Costa from Kochi. The ship conducts service along the Mumbai-Kochi-Maldives route.
Meanwhile, work is underway at Ernakulam wharf to open a full-fledged cruise terminal by February 2020. When the facility is functional, massive cruise ships having a length of over 250 m can dock at the wharf. With 48 immigration and Customs counters, the terminal would offer a smooth arrival for visitors.
Another facility planned by Cochin Port Trust authorities is a helicopter service for passengers arriving in cruise ships. "This would help visitors travel to far-off destinations in Kerala within a short time," said Port Trust chairperson Dr M Beena.