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Concerns for cruise industry after NCB drug bust

Cruise ship operations resumed at the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) in Goa on 26 September, after a prolonged halt in operations amid the pandemic. About a week later, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided a Goa-bound ship. There could be a “short-term setback” for cruise operations, feels the industry.

MPT Vice-Chairman GP Rai said on Sunday that there is no report of any change in the operations of cruise ships scheduled at the port and they are expected to continue as usual. However, the revenue streams that had dried up amid the pandemic may take longer to revive.

Cruise ship operations, in addition to generating revenue for cruise line operators and the port, also supports allied industries such as hotels, restaurants, taxi services and many small businesses. Sunday’s high-profile drug bust off the coast of Mumbai, in a state heavily dependent on tourism, sparked concerns about the impact on cruise line tourism in Goa.

Cordelia Cruises began its first domestic cruise season in Goa on 26 September after a “long hiatus”. The cruise ship MV Empress had arrived at Mormugao port with 1,591 passengers on board. Seventy-five passengers had boarded the ship that day in Goa.

Port officials said it was “very sad” that the incident happened at a time when cruise ship business had resumed. Other cruise ship operators were expected to start services in December.

“It was a great joy and relief for everyone in the hospitality business, which had taken a huge hit during the COVID-19 Period. The port management worked tirelessly to restart the cruise season with all necessary SOPs to contain the spread of COVID,” the MPT said in a statement on September 26.

Nilesh Shah, president of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), the apex body of the tourism industry in the state, said that the tourism industry in the state may suffer a setback, but it may be short-lived.

“Even if there may be some cancellations due to this incident, we feel, they may be short-lived. I don’t think it will have a long-term impact on cruise operations,” Shah said. He said that each cruise liner that comes into the port in Goa brings about 1,500 guests.

While port authorities in Goa or Mumbai had not received any communication from any agency following NCB’s mid-sea raid on cruise ships on Sunday, it is learned that officials may discuss whether any additional direction for cruise ship operators. Whether instruction was required or not. in the coming weeks.

The cruise operator had issued an 18-page guide for passengers about abstaining from the use of drugs and psychotropic substances that would violate laws and fines that would attract, it has learned.

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