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India’s paramilitary force CISF has been selected to provide security to ports and also ensure an airport-like facility for travelers of luxury ships, as part of the government’s grand plans to promote cruise tourism.
According to indianexpress.com, the home ministry has tasked the Central Industrial Security Force to “take care” of the security aspect of this project which is expected to have an interface with many international and domestic tourists every month.
Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari and Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, Mahesh Sharma, unveiled a proposal for a full-fledged cruise tourism policy recently and it is likely to be implemented within the next three months.
A committee of senior officials of the central paramilitary, immigration and customs authorities has also been tasked to prepare standard operating procedures (SOPs) before the cruise tourism project is rolled out. The CISF has also designated, for the first time, a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) rank officer at its headquarters to look after the security of all the ports under its security umbrella in the country.
The CISF secures 12 major ports and about six shipyards in the country and has deployed about 4,000 personnel for the task. The proposed security SOPs will take care off of all arrival and departure procedures, baggages, activity of tour operators and waterfront security at the ports which will host cruises, they said.
“The security set up at the ports will be similar to airport security. The control and access of the port area will be regulated by the CISF and protocols as per international standards will be put in place at the designated ports where cruise ships will anchor,” a senior official said.
Gadkari was also quoted recently saying that a cruise tourism policy is in the making and will be announced soon. It is aimed at tapping India’s vast potential on this front and attract more vessels. The country draws nearly 70 cruise vessels a year, which is expected to go up to 700 with this initiative. The Union minister had said the action plan will be finalised in the next three months that includes key steps on par with international standards, simplification of procedures, easy immigration and ways to make India a global hotspot.
Domestic cruise passengers are estimated to grow to 1.5 million by 2031-32. Of the 12 major ports, only five have facilities to berth international cruise ships.