Luxury cruise tourism, which was halted due to the pandemic in February 2020, will resume this November. According to cruise tourism stakeholders, the first cruise ship is scheduled to call on the New Mangalore Port Trust Port on November 28.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of queries from luxury cruises, and they are yet to confirm their arrival dates. Cruise tourism in the coastal district usually starts in November and goes on till March or April. In a span of six months, close to 30 cruise ships call at the port, bringing thousands of foreigners to the coastal districts. It also contributes revenue to the local economy.
“The cruise industry has been hit with Covid-19 and it was a big blow to the local revenue. It will resume positively after a gap of two years,” said a head of a tour and travel firm.
One of the luxury cruise vessel handling agents said the Costa Victoria cruise was the last vessel that sailed to NMPT on February 20, 2020. The next cruise vessel, MSC Lirica was denied entry by NMPT as the world was witnessing the first surge of Covid-19 cases. “In 2019-2020, 12 cruise ships were cancelled. In 2021–22, 22 cruise vessels had booked, but never sailed due to the pandemic. This year, so far, we have received confirmed bookings for nearly eight cruise vessels, and the numbers are likely to go up in the coming days,” said the agent.
Another tour and travel firm head said some of those who benefit from cruise tourism are rental taxis and buses, local guides, students (as guides), caterers, local tourist attractions; and others. The small cruises have close to 200–250 passengers, whereas bigger vessels have more than 2,000 passengers. “All those who come to Mangaluru move around to different tourist places and visit malls and eateries. While most of them travel in buses, others prefer cabs with guides. This generates huge revenue for the locals,” he said.
Around three travel and tourism firms handle ground tours for the luxury cruises that call on Mangaluru. NMPT extends facilities for the smooth handling of cruise vessels. Some of them include priority berthing on arrival; concessional port charges; berthing facilities that can accommodate cruise vessels up to 311 metre length overall; a full-fledged cruise lounge; immigration facilities and medical facilities.