Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the world’s longest river cruise – MV ‘Ganga Vilas’ from Varanasi to Dibrugarh on January 13 through video conferencing. In the coming 51 days, this luxury cruise will not only bring to the world India’s potential for cruise tourism for India but will also showcase India’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and spiritual splendour. In these 51 days, the tourists will travel a distance of 3200 kms. This tour will continue through Patna, Kolkata, Dhaka (Bangladesh), Sahibganj, and Guwahati, via Majuli Island. Tourists travelling in this ship will visit the famous cities and tourist areas located on the banks of these two rivers.
PM Modi will also inaugurate a ‘Tent City’ on the banks of the Ganga river in Varanasi. On this occasion, PM Modi will inaugurate and lay the foundation stones for several other inland waterways projects also worth more than Rs 1,000 crore.
MV Ganga Vilas will start its journey from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and reach Dibrugarh in Assam after travelling approximately 3,200 km in 51 days crossing 27 river systems in India and Bangladesh. MV Ganga Vilas has three decks with all luxury amenities, and 18 suites with a capacity of 36 tourists. In the first trip, there will be 32 tourists from Switzerland.
MV Ganga Vilas Cruise is designed to showcase the best of the country to the world. 51 days cruise planned with visits to 50 tourist destinations including world heritage sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam. The tour will give tourists an opportunity to embark on an experiential journey and indulge in the art, culture, history and spirituality of India and Bangladesh.
To tap the potential of tourism in the region, a tent city has been envisaged on the banks of the river Ganga. The project has been developed opposite the ghats of the city which will provide the convenience of living in Varanasi, especially after the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath Dham and cater to the increasing number of tourists. It has been developed by Varanasi Development Authority in PPP mode. Tourists will reach the tent city by boat from various nearby ghats. The tent city will be operational from October to June every year and will cease for three months during the rainy season due to the increase in the water level of the river.
The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is the coordinator of this ship tourism project. While speaking on the safety of the tourists travelling through the international borders of India and Bangladesh, the Union Minister of Tourism, Shri G Kishan Reddy said, “all the facilities and security protocols have been taken care of for the tourists. The Government of India is taking several steps to promote cruise tourism in the country”.
The government of India has taken several initiatives to boost the country’s cruise tourism industry, including infrastructure upgrades, rationalisation of port fees, removal of ousting charges, priority berthing for cruise ships, and the provision of e-visa facilities. India aims to increase cruise passenger traffic from 0.4 million at present to 4 million. The economic potential of cruise tourism is expected to rise from $110 million to $5.5 billion in the coming years. To realise this, the Centre has taken up the task of developing 100 national waterways, with the goal of seeing world-class cruise ships operating on these waterways in addition to cargo movement. 12 projects amounting to Rs. 1,098 Cr. are being undertaken to improve infrastructure related to cruise shipping in India. For the majority of these projects, infrastructure is being developed with the allied facility at Major ports.