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Concerns for cruise industry after NCB drug bust

. In a state heavily dependent on tourism, there were concerns over the bearing Sunday’s high-profile drug bust off the coast of Mumbai, may have on cruise line tourism in Goa.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
October 4, 2021 1:49:06 am
The 14 passenger ships that have come between November 2020 and October 2021 is the highest Alang has ever seen in a single year.(Representative/File)

AFTER A long interruption in operations amid the pandemic, cruise ship operations had begun at the Mormugoa Port Trust (MPT) in Goa on September 26. About a week later, the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) raids on a Goa-bound ship, the industry feels, may be a “short-term setback” for cruise operations.

MPT Deputy Chairman G P Rai said on Sunday there had been no information on any change in cruise ship operations scheduled at the port and they were expected to continue as usual. However, the revenue streams that had dried up amid the pandemic may perhaps take longer to be revived.

The cruise ship operations, apart from generating revenue for the cruise line operators and the port, also support allied industries like hotels, restaurants, taxi services and a host of small businesses. In a state heavily dependent on tourism, there were concerns over the bearing Sunday’s high-profile drug bust off the coast of Mumbai, may have on cruise line tourism in Goa.

Cordelia Cruises had started their first domestic cruise season in Goa after a “long gap” on September 26. Cruise ship MV Empress’ had arrived at the the Mormugao Port with 1,591 passengers on board. Seventy-five passengers had boarded the ship in Goa that day.

Port officials said it was “very sad” that the incident had taken place just when the cruise ship business was afloat again. Other cruise ship operators were expected to start services in December.

“It was a big joy and relief to everyone in the hospitality business, which had a taken a big hit during the Covid-19 period. The port management worked tirelessly to recommence the cruise season with all the required SoPs in place, to prevent spread of Covid,” the MPT had said in a statement on September 26.

Nilesh Shah, president of Travel and Toursim Association of Goa (TTAG), the apex tourism industry body in the state, said that even if there may be a setback to the tourism industry in the state, it may be short-term.

“Even if there may be some cancellations of bookings because of this incident, we feel, they may be short term. I don’t think it will have a long-term effect on cruise operations,” said Shah. He said every cruise liner that pulls into the port in Goa brings about 1,500 guests.

While port authorities in Goa or Mumbai had received no communication from any agency after the NCB’s mid-sea raid on the cruise ship on Sunday, it is learnt that officials may discuss whether or not there was a need for any additional guidelines for cruise ship operators in the week ahead.

The cruise operator had issued an 18-page guide for passengers about refraining from the use of drugs and psychotropic substances, the laws it would violate and the penalty that would attract, it is learnt.

 

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