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Indian Cruise Holidays: Is There a Price to Pay in Damage?

Impact of Cruise holidays

Cruise vacations, typically associated with senior citizens, are gaining popularity among India’s Gen Z, millennials, and young professionals, according to the India Holiday Report 2023 by Thomas Cook India and SOTC India. The report highlights the appeal of all-inclusive cruise holidays, emphasizing the convenience of avoiding multiple check-ins and transfers. Indian travelers, known for seeking value, are drawn to cruises due to thrilling onboard activities, affordability, and easy access to credit, resulting in a 70% increase in interest since pre-pandemic times.

Expansions galore

India’s cruise industry is expanding with new cruise terminals in Visakhapatnam and Chennai, and a surge in passenger traffic, growing from 126,000 in 2015-16 to 468,000 in 2019-20. The Indian government aims to capitalize on its extensive coastline and navigable waterways, planning to open international cruise ports in Goa, Mumbai, and Kerala by 2024, and increase the number of cruise ships to 1,100 by 2047.

The challenges

However, the global cruise industry faces criticism for its environmental impact, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution. To address this, cruise lines are adopting eco-friendly practices and ships, complying with the International Maritime Organization’s regulations. Still, challenges remain, especially in India, where marine pollution, waste management, and ecological concerns are pressing issues.

India’s coastline, with its vulnerable ecosystems, is at risk from development activities. Marine experts warn of the impact on coral reefs, seagrass beds, marine mammals, and migratory patterns due to cruise ships. While India has guidelines for cruise operators, their implementation remains inadequate.

Cruise ships release sewage, greywater, and bilge water, posing environmental risks. Furthermore, the surge in cruise tourism raises concerns of overtourism in port cities, a problem faced worldwide. Cities like Amsterdam have banned cruise liners to combat overcrowding and pollution.

In India, the cruise industry’s rapid growth, while economically promising, requires responsible tourism models and considerations for local communities. Kerala Tourism aims to provide memorable experiences for cruise travelers while recognizing the need for sustainable practices.

As India strives to unlock its maritime potential, balancing economic growth with environmental protection remains a challenge. Addressing concerns of marine pollution and environmental sustainability is essential for India’s cruise industry’s long-term success.

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