PM Modi to Launch World's Longest River Cruise MV Ganga Vilas, Introducing New Era of River Tourism
Varanasi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the world's longest river cruise, the MV Ganga Vilas, on January 13, 2023 in Varanasi. The luxury cruise, which will travel through 27…
Varanasi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the world's longest river cruise, the MV Ganga Vilas, on January 13, 2023 in Varanasi. The luxury cruise, which will travel through 27 river systems in 5 states in India and Bangladesh, will introduce a new era of river cruise tourism in the country. The Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal, said that the untapped potential of river cruise tourism will be unlocked with the launch of the MV Ganga Vilas.
Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal, spoke about the potential of India's rich river system and the role that the MV Ganga Vilas, a luxury river cruise, will play in unlocking this potential for sustainable development through inland waterways. He elaborated that the cruise, which is supported by the government and led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will allow tourists to experience the spiritual, educational, and cultural aspects of India's rich heritage, as well as the biodiversity of the country. This cruise, which covers a range of destinations including Kashi, Sarnath, Majuli, Mayong, Sunderbans, and Kaziranga, offers a truly memorable experience. He also emphasized the government's commitment to supporting the growth of river cruise tourism in India and strengthening their "Act East" policy.
The MV Ganga Vilas cruise has been designed to showcase the best of India to the world, with a 51-day itinerary that includes visits to 50 tourist attractions such as World Heritage Sites, National Parks, and major cities. The vessel, which is 62 meters long and 12 meters wide, has three decks with 18 suites that can accommodate 36 tourists, and is equipped with sustainable features like pollution-free mechanisms and noise control technologies. The first voyage of the MV Ganga Vilas will feature 32 tourists from Switzerland on a journey from Varanasi to Dibrugarh, with an expected arrival date of March 1, 2023.
The itinerary of the MV Ganga Vilas has been carefully planned to showcase India's rich heritage, with stops at historical, cultural, and religious sites. These include the famous "Ganga Arti" in Varanasi, the Buddhist site of Sarnath, the Tantric craft center of Mayong, and the Vaishnavite cultural hub of Majuli. The cruise will also visit the Bihar School of Yoga and Vikramshila University, and travel through World Heritage Sites like the Sunderbans, home to Royal Bengal Tigers, and Kaziranga National Park, known for its one-horned rhinos.
Sonowal emphasized the importance of developing river cruise tourism in India, noting that it would create employment opportunities in the hinterland. The government is investing in the sector to build capacity and support its growth, and will develop and integrate river tourism circuits with existing tourism circuits for maximum visibility and rapid development.
The MV Ganga Vilas is a pioneering river cruise service, and its success is expected to encourage other entrepreneurs to consider offering similar services in other parts of India. The cruise has the support of the Inland Waterways Authority of India, which falls under the Ministry of Shipping, Ports, and Waterways.
The global river cruise market has grown by around 5% in recent years and is expected to make up about 37% of the cruise market by 2027. Europe has been driving this growth, with approximately 60% of the world's river cruise vessels. In India, there are currently eight river cruise vessels operating between Kolkata and Varanasi, and cruise movement is also available on National Waterway 2 (Brahmaputra). There are also various tourism activities such as river rafting, camping, sightseeing, and kayaking available at various locations in the country.
Construction is currently underway on ten passenger terminals across National Waterway 2, which will further support the growth of river cruises. Currently, there are four river cruise vessels operating on National Waterway 2, with limited capacity available on National Waterways 3 (West Coast Canal), National Waterway 8, National Waterway 4, National Waterway 87, National Waterway 97, and National Waterway 5. As the government invests in building capacity in the inland waterways, river cruises are expected to grow and create economic benefits through forward and backward linkages, particularly along the banks of the rivers.