Dream cruise on high seas

29 August 2009

Fancy a cruise on a luxury yacht along the coast of Karnataka, Kerala and Goa This could well be the latest holiday craze in Karnataka , if everything goes according to plan.

The state government, in a bid to give tourism a muchneeded fillip, is seriously vying for inter-state cruise connectivity with Kerala and Goa. Its 300-km long coast is a major asset for such an idea.

But apparently, theres a big rider to get the Centres green signal for this exhilarating proposal: the recent terror attack on Mumbai and the countrys strategic Seabird Naval Base in Karwar.

Talks are still in the early stages as the neighbouring states have only just shown some interest in this mutually beneficial tourism project. We are trying our best, said tourism minister G Janardhan Reddy.

Officials said the proposed project will initially include cruise liners that cover various destinations along the state coastline and provide world-class luxury and recreation to tourists in neighbouring states. The project would be implemented on public-private partnership (PPP) mode and a private party would operate the cruise.

The inter-state sea cruise to promote tourism is Reddys brainchild. He had already discussed the project with the Kerala and Goa tourism ministers , who have reciprocated positively, said a senior tourism department official.

While the tourism department is already running cruise yachts locally at New Mangalore and Karwar ports for short distances, it is now drafting proposals to run cruise-circuits between Mangalore and Karwar. This project is likely to take off by the year-end , a senior officer said.

Under the interstate project, tourists will travel from Mangalore to Kochi in Kerala , and from Karwar to Panaji in Goa on the sea route, halting at tourist spots enroute. The luxury ships will offer all facilities, including dining and bed, for a minimum period of 10 days. Its not all. The government is planning to woo investment in infrastructure such as marinas and jetties to encourage cruise tourism, yachting and backwater tourism.

There is also a plan to initiate tourism around major dams, including KRS, Almatti and Tungabhadra.

Claiming that Karnataka will benefit under this tourism project, officials said they have already made a survey. While we have the infrastructure to anchor vessels at New Mangalore Port, we have to develop such facilities at Karwar and other nearby towns, said H S Girish, an officer at Karwar.

Ravi Hegde, a tour operator here, said since Karnataka is strategically located between Goa and Kerala, it can attract a greater number of foreign tourists and more cruise vessels from other states as well. This will greatly help the state make strides in developing beach tourism.
manu.aiyappa@timesgroup .com
source times of india


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