IN A serious push to strengthen tourism infrastructure, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat (TCGL) is encouraging new flights and will launch a cruise product to promote the state's coastal destinations.
Taxes on aviation turbine fuel have been slashed from 28 per cent to three per cent, paving the way for private investors to start airlines running flights within the state and beyond. Meanwhile, 12 airports in Gujarat are being upgraded with night landing facilities to encourage travel to smaller cities.
Meanwhile, a Rs1.2 billion (US$19.5 million) boost from India’s Planning Commission will allow a new cruise linking Mumbai to Porbandar, a coastal city in Gujarat, to debut by this year-end.
The cruise, to offer three-day packages, was born of a collaboration between TCGL and a private operator, and is part of a bid to establish Gujarat’s 1,600km coastline as a tourist attraction.
Vipul Mittra, principal secretary – tourism, government of Gujarat, said: “We have identified 17 beaches along the coastline and our focus is to develop coastal tourism in these places and make Gujarat a coastal tourism destination. To promote cruise tourism, cruise vessels will be given berthing priority and no port fee will be collected from cruise liners for docking at Gujarat ports.”
Jaal Shah, managing director, Ahmedabad-based Travel Designer, said: “The natural treasure of the longest coastline in India deserves to be used productively and cruises will help turn many beaches into destinations, as resorts are bound to come up with an increase in demand. Perhaps we shall see terminals for ocean liners in the near future too.
“We are optimistic about growth of tourism in Gujarat, not just MICE but inbound leisure tourism too.”