The number of luxury vessels calling at Kochi is on the increase. The port has so far received around 20 vessels. Besides, the inflow of chartered tourists here has also seen an increase with over 4,000 of them landing in Kochi either by Air or by the sea during this week .
International luxury vessels started visiting Kochi way back in 2001, with a modest 9 vessels. Now, Kochi has become the mainstay of cruise tourism in India. Recently, the Cochin Port Trust commissioned an exclusive cruise facilitation centre that provides speedy and smooth services to the travellers.
During 2007-08, 43 vessels with 14,063 tourists visited the city. But the number of vessels dropped in the following years due to the financial crisis across Europe and the US. In 2008-09, 36 vessels with 19,264 passengers embarked at the port and in the next season this stood at 34 ships and 37,949 passengers.
Arrival of vessels picked up from 2010-11 with 41 vessels and 24,112 travellers. In 2011-12, 44 ships with 37,201 travellers visited Kochi. This year the number is expected to cross 50 as around 35 visits have been confirmed so far. The season for luxury liners goes till March.
The efforts of the Port Trust, which has set up a dedicated cruise cell and single window clearance on one hand and the tourism ministry, tour operators, vessel agent, stevedores providing labour pool, taxi and autorickshaws drivers, on the other, has helped in attracting luxury vessels to Kochi.
The port recently hosted nearly 5,000 guests on board German cruise liner, AIDA diva, which berthed on November 25. It has so far hosted six turnarounds of three cruise ships of AIDA cruises.