Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday e-launched Hazira to Diu cruise service at a ferry terminal in Hazira developed by Essar Ports.
Essar Bulk Terminal Ltd (EBTL), part of ports business of Essar, said the new cruise route will revolutionise coastal transportation across the western coast of India and give a boost to coastal tourism for the people of Gujarat.
“Following the WHO guidelines for COVID-19 precautions, Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ports, Shipping and Waterways…flagged off the Ferry service at passenger terminal in Hazira through virtual presence,” Essar Ports said in a statement.
Mandaviya said the development of cruise tourism has been the prime focus of the Modi government.
In 2014, there were around 1.07 lakh cruise passengers in India per annum which rose to 4.63 lakh per annum in 2019-20. The cruise calls to Indian ports was 139 and 445 for these periods, respectively, he said.
“Under the Maritime Vision 2030, we are aiming for more than 350 cruise ships, 3,000 plus cruise calls per annum, more than 3 cruise training academies and 5 million cruise passengers by 2030. We are taking all-round steps to create perfect ecosystem for cruise industry.
“The passenger ferry service has seen a giant leap with the development of Hazira as a cruise tourism hub. This will also open up many opportunities for the tourism sector of Gujarat as well,” the minister said.
Essar Capital Director Prashant Ruia said the project is aligned to the Maritime India Vision 2030 of Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and paves way for accelerated growth of India”s maritime sector.
JAI SOFIA ”Mumbai Maiden”, a state-of-the-art cruise cum passenger ferry vessel with a capacity of 300 passengers will now sail in the inaugural route from Hazira to Diu.
The vessel has all the facilities on board and provides a bouquet of services on board, the statement said adding, the ferry services are being operated by SSR Marine Services Pvt Ltd.
Rajiv Agarwal, Managing Director – Essar Ports said, “This is a big milestone for us. The Ferry Terminal was commissioned in record time and the ferry services through it are a significant addition to air, road, and rail-based connectivity along Indian coastline”.
EBTL said the facility includes both marine structures, like landing platform, passenger walkway and floating pontoon, as well as shore-based facilities, like a terminal building, cafeteria and vehicle parking area.
The project was completed in record time using Essar’s in-house expertise and resources, it said.
Essar Ports specializes in development and operations of ports and terminals for handling liquid, dry bulk, break bulk and general cargo. It has four operational terminals in India across Hazira and Salaya (Gujarat) on the west coast, and one each in Visakhapatnam and Paradip on the east coast.