World's longest river cruise 'Ganga Vilas' to unlock potential of river cruise tourism in India: Sarbananda Sonowal
The cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots including World Heritage Sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna, Sahibganj, Kolkata, Dhaka and Guwahati
NEW DELHI: The launch of the world's longest river cruise named MV Ganga Vilas by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 13 in Varanasi will herald a new age of river cruise tourism for India, said Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush.
The luxury cruise will cover a distance of more than 3,200 km across 27 river systems in five states in India and Bangladesh. The huge untapped potential of river cruises is set to get unlocked with the launch of this service, added Sonowal. Speaking on the occasion, Sonowal said, "Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are exploring the immense wealth that our rich river system has to offer".
Sonowal said, "This avenue of sustainable development via inland waterways has received a tremendous boost as efforts to augment cargo traffic as well as passenger tourism have borne fruit with encouraging results. The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is a step towards unlocking the huge potential river tourism the country has to offer".
"Our rich heritage will get further transcended on the global stage as tourists will be able to experience the spiritual, the educational, the well-being, the cultural as well as the richness of the biodiversity of India," he added.
"From Kashi to Sarnath, from Majuli to Mayong, from Sunderbans to Kaziranga, this cruise packs an experience of a lifetime. I believe that this wonderful initiative, under the guidance of Prime Minister Modi, is the beginning of a new era in river cruise tourism in India and strengthening our government's commitment to enabling Act East, both through policy and practice," the minister said
The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is curated to bring out the best of the country to be showcased to the world. The 51-day cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots including World Heritage Sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.
The maiden voyage of MV Ganga Vilas will witness 32 tourists from Switzerland relishing the Varanasi to Dibrugarh journey. The expected date of arrival of MV Ganga Vilas in Dibrugarh is on March 1, 2023.
The itinerary of MV Ganga Vilas has been curated to showcase the rich heritage of India with stopovers in spots of historical, cultural and religious importance. From the famous "Ganga Arti" in Varanasi, it will stop at Sarnath, a place of great reverence for Buddhism. It will also cover Mayong, known for its Tantric craft, and Majuli, the largest river island and hub of Vaishnavite culture in Assam.
The travellers will also visit the Bihar School of Yoga and Vikramshila University, allowing them to soak in the rich Indian heritage in spirituality and knowledge. The cruise will also traverse through the biodiversity-rich World Heritage Sites of Sunderbans in the Bay of Bengal delta, famous for Royal Bengal Tigers, as well as Kaziranga National Park, famous for the one-horned rhino.
Highlighting the need to develop river cruise tourism in the country, Union Minister Sonowal said that the development of this sector would generate employment opportunities in the hinterland. The government is making capital expenditures to build capacity for the success of river cruise tourism in the country.
He said the river tourism circuits will be developed and integrated with the existing tourism circuits for maximum exposure and rapid development of this sector in the country.
The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is a first-of-its-kind cruise service. With support from the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) under the Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways (MoPSW), the success of this service is likely to enthuse entrepreneurs to explore river cruises in other parts of the country. (ANI)