To ease movement of cruise passengers to Mangaluru, New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) is planning to create a dedicated road and a new gate within the port premises to handle cruise traffic.
AV Ramana, Chairman of NMPT, said that there are plans to set up a dedicated road and an exclusive gate for handling cruise passengers. The plan, which is expected to take shape from the next financial year, envisages connecting the dedicated road from the cruise lounge with the proposed new gate to manage cruise traffic. The cruise passengers will not mix with the port traffic so that it will be a completely different experience for the visiting tourists, he said.
Stating that NMPT is in touch with a consultant on the proposed dedicated road and new gate, he said both would be readied in 2020-21.
In addition to this, NMPT is also planning to set up a transport hub outside the new gate where taxis, autorickshaws will be available to the tourists. A cruise passenger, who wants to explore the city on his/her own, can just board a taxi/autorickshaw from the proposed transport hub, he said.
Stressing the need to boost helicopter linkage between Mangaluru and other places of tourist interest within 150 km radius of the port, he said it will give a major boost to tourism.
Stating that he is working on a proposal in this regard, Ramana said it will be submitted to the Chief Secretary of Karnataka. The State government has to identify the places of tourist interests, and give land parcels for helipads (if they are not there). Once these things are ready, private players will be there to invest, he said.
Most of the cruise vessels arrive at the Port in the morning and sail out by evening. The passengers don’t have much time in their hand. Since they want to travel comfortably and safely, this initiative can help, he said.
To a query on cruise traffic at the port, he said 26 cruise vessels called at the Port in the last financial year. For 2019-20, the port authorities have got confirmation from 23 cruise vessels. More confirmations are on the way, he said.
More cruise vessels are expected to call at the New Mangalore Port during 2019-20 than last year, he said, adding that the first cruise vessel of the season is expected to call at berth No. 4 on November 4.
On the contribution of cruise traffic to the city’s economy, he said there will be around 2,500 people on each cruise vessel. On an average, a passenger spends around $200 per head per visit.