The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) along with the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) has made major upgrades at the port to make their disembarkation and offshore experience a seamless one.
Appointed in May 2017, Vijay Waghmare, Managing Director, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has been busy since. If it’s not tackling the tourist guide problem that has been hampering Maharashtra tourism, then he’s busy co-ordinating with Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) to make the offshore experience of cruise passengers easy.
Cruise tourism is a new and exciting area of tourism in Maharashtra. While the port trust has taken the initiative, MTDC is one of the major players which will be co-ordinating with MPT in terms of cruise operations. It is currently chalking out the nitty-gritties and fixing the logistical aspects that tourists disembarking at Mumbai get annoyed with. Speaking about this, Waghmare adds, “We want to welcome international tourists when they get off the ship in a way that they can also get a glimpse of what Maharashtra is about – places to see, our cuisine, our culture.”
Facilities for cruise passengers
Ever since MPT took action a year ago, 158 ships have come into Mumbai. But the potential is for 955 ships which can take the passenger count per ship from about 1,250 today to 4,200 passengers when the demand increases. Most of the five major ports – Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, New Mangalore and Chennai – will have e-visa facilities and e-landing cards from this season. “There is an issue of biometrics, which we are getting resolved by putting additional machines of 30 each at Mumbai and Kochi ports. Then, for security, so that passengers are not stopped multiple times, a majority of the ports now have access control and RFID on vehicles so that everyone can swipe and enter. This will be introduced at Mumbai port from September 2017,” Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, MPT, reveals.
After separating the cargo and cruise terminals at all five ports, they now have electronic permits and e-payments, and single-window systems. Port charges are also getting reduced. Mumbai, of course, is getting an upgraded terminal reportedly at the cost of Rs 225 crore for a modern passenger terminal.
Training of guides is also a major concern for international tourists. With the increase of cruise tourism, the demand for guides will also increase, specially the foreign-language speaking ones. “We will be providing training for this. In the first phase, we are planning to certify 100 tour guides and we will be focusing on people who have proficiency in foreign languages. Four cities have been identified for the first phase: Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nasik and Nagpur,” Waghmare adds.