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Saturday, December 09, 2006

More cruise ships to Tuticorin,if road links are developed

Tuticorin Port, which has better facilities than Panama, would be able to attract more cruise ships carrying tourists if road links to tourist centres like Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram and Kanyakumari were developed, Port Trust Chairman N K Raghupathy said at SPEED held in Madurai.

Speaking at a conference on "Development of Cruise Tourism and air connectivity in Southern Districts of Tamil Nadu", he said that the Port had invested in a cargo complex and on developing the Tuticorin-Tirunelveli National Highway. It has all advantages like a clear water harbour and clean berths and is ideally located, just eight hours from Colombo port, which receives many international cruise ships, he said.

He suggested that the Tuticorin airport be upgraded along with Madurai, to enhance tourist inflow.

Observing that cruise ships berth only for a day at the Port, which offers 33.33 per cent concession, he said tourists should be taken to the nearest tourist spots within five or six hours and brought back. "But this will be possible only if there were good road links," he said.

On the potential benefits, he said each cruise traveller spends about $500. "If 200 passengers arrive in a cruise ship, we can imagine how much they will spend."

He said, productivity at the Port had been affected as the infrastructure was not enough to handle more ships calling on the port. But steps were being taken to improve facilities.

He said, environmental clearance for the second container terminal had been given and it would come up before 2008. Due to optimum utilisation of facilities, the number of ships waiting outside the port had come down to 13 from 23, he said.

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