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India targets cruise market

There could soon be some exotic new ports of call on the world cruising map as India seeks to establish itself as a major cruise destination.

Cruise facilities at Mumbai, Mormugao in Goa, Cochin in Kerala, New Mangalore on the south-west coast and Chennai on the east coast, will all be upgraded in order to meet the demands of the burgeoning cruise industry.

"Cruise operators are more than ever searching for new destinations and itineraries and India's reputation as an enchanting, exotic and historical destination lends itself ideally to becoming a major port of call," says Leena Nandan, joint secretary to the government of India, ministry of tourism, speaking at World Travel Market in London.

"We aim to ensure that India's cruise industry is competitive with other international destinations, and that as well as developing existing ports we also explore other possible anchoring sites around the Indian coast," adds Nandan.

India wants to attract 100,000 cruise passenger landings a year by the end of 2010. River cruises in Goa and Kerala will also be promoted more heavily.

Written by: Nick Purdom