In a bid to boost tourism in the country, Ministry of Shipping (MoS) is planning to start inland waterways navigation and passenger transportation system in the rivers of the northeastern states of India. Public sector company WAPCOS has been roped in to prepare a model Detailed Project Report (DPR) for implementing the running of low-cost ferry services in these states.

There’s immense potential for maritime tourism, and concurrently the need to promote important tourist destinations in the coastal areas of the country. The scope to explore avenues for coastal tourism in the country is vast; the possibilities in the areas of coastal tourism, cruise tourism, sea sports and lighthouse viewing gallery is endless.

Activities like beach volleyball, sand art, food festival, and festivals of the fishing community will contribute to tourist engagement. According to the government, venturing into this unexplored tourism sector is also going to generate new and diverse job opportunities for the local communities.

The government has already started developing the country’s first national waterway along river Ganga from Haldia to Varanasi. While it’s being speculated that the inland waterway will be a game-changer for the northeastern states, these efforts are in tune with the Ministry of Shipping’s plan to promote maritime tourism under the government’s Sagarmala programme. Who wouldn’t want an alternative and easy way of commute in place of the often long, circuitous and time-consuming land routes due to the difficult northeastern terrain.

A recent example of maritime tourism in India is the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between India and Maldives (from Kochi to Male) on passenger and cargo services that promises to improve connectivity between the two nations by providing an alternate, direct and less expensive transport mode for passengers and goods. The move will not only improve economic but also social and cultural ties between the two countries.