New Delhi, Jul 19 (PTI) About two lakh passengers of cruise ships visited India during the year 2016-17, and the number is expected to rise to almost 40 lakh by 2042-43, the government said today.

Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, said that as per the estimates in a draft report by consultants, for various scenarios in case of low growth, mid growth and high growth, the number of cruise passengers are likely to be 4.72 lakh, 27.18 lakh and 39.41 lakh respectively by the year 2042-2043.

In the year 2016-2017, total 158 cruise ships visited India at five major ports, namely Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore Port, Cochin and Chennai.

According to estimates, the numbers of such cruise ships could go up to 955 by 2042-2043 depending on the level of growth in the sector, said Sharma.

“Cruise tourism is a high-end luxury tourist segment of tourism sector. Home port operations augment local economic activities as business opportunities arise for supply for provisions, transport, hotels, bunkering to cruise ships which generate direct and indirect employment.

“The local economy also gains from the spending by cruise tourists during land excursions,” Sharma said.

With a 7,500-km-long coastline, India has taken some key steps to promote cruise tourism that includes relaxation of policies and roping in global consultants.

A cruise ship carries around 3,000-4,000 tourists and 1,500 crew to various coastal cities, islands, countries, and itself acts like a destination with all entertainment, leisure activities on board.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.