Varanasi, India (Urban Transport News): Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is all set to introduce world's longest tourist cruise route in this month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the river cruise from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Dibrugarh in Assam via Bangladesh on January 13, 2023.
The cruise will cover around 3,200 km distance of 27 river systems including Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly, Brahmaputra and West Coast Canal in India in a span of 50 days.
“This will be a unique cruise in the world and a reflection of growing cruise tourism in India. I request people of West Bengal to take the benefit of this,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi while launching multiple projects for West Bengal through video-conferencing on December 30, 2022. He also announced that the cruise will start its first voyage on January 13, 2023.
The Prime Minister said that the Centre has taken up the task of developing 100 national waterways and the target is to see world class cruise operating on these waterways besides movement of cargo. “In ancient times, waterways were used in a big way for trade and tourism. That’s why several towns came up on the banks of rivers and there was industrial development,” he said.
According to IWAI officials, the luxury cruise will cover 50 major tourist sites, including some heritage sites, the famous Ganga Aarti at Varanasi and sanctuaries such as Kaziranga National Park and the Sundarbans Delta. The cruise will travel around 1,100 km in Bangladesh. The cruise will be operated by private players.
“Because of the increased focus of the government on development and maintenance of inland waterways, we have taken up several projects to increase the depth, set up necessary navigation facilities and jetties for successful operation of both passenger and cargo vessels,” said officials.
The development of India-Bangladesh Protocol route has played a key role in planning of the cruise service. “Our civilisation has come up along the rivers and hence the tourists using river cruises will get a better experience and understand our culture and heritage,” said an IWAI official.
Recently, Union Minister for Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal had said that the development of coastal and river shipping, including cruise services, is one of the top priorities of the government.