Kolkata, Jan 25 (PTI) The cruise travel business from India is likely to rise exponentially from two lakh passengers annually at present to 40 lakh a year within the next five to 10 years, representative of a top notch cruise shipping company said Friday.

The 20-fold rise in passenger traffic will happen provided the industry gets a coherent cruise policy that would involve a favourable tax regime on cruise travel, Varun Chadha, chief operating officer of a company representing the Royal Caribbean Cruises, said.

“At present, cruise travel attracts 18 per cent tax, which need to be rationalised to give boost to it,” he said.

Out of the two lakh travellers opting for cruise ship travel, around 40 to 45 per cent involve friends and family group travellers, while the rest is from the businesses, with companies taking their employees or distributors on a trip as incentive, he said.

The rise in cruise travel will lead to creation of 2.5 lakh jobs and a revenue of Rs 35,000 crore, Chadha said referring to a report by international consultants Bermello and Ajamil, which was appointed by the Ministry of Tourism to chalk out a road map for cruise tourism in India.

Chadha claimed that Indian cruise tourism industry is growing at 16 per cent per annum against seven to eight per cent globally.

He said Singapore is the most preferred destination of Indian cruise travellers, followed by the Mediterranean in Europe and Alaska in North America.

Kolkata, which accounts for five to seven per cent of the total Indian traffic at present, is the fastest growing market for cruise tourism in the country at 80 per cent annually, Chadha said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.