Coming Soon: Teerth Yatras On Cruise Liners
Sadhus wait in a queue to register for the annual pilgrimage to Amarnath shrine at a base camp in Jammu. (Source: PTI)

Coming Soon: Teerth Yatras On Cruise Liners


Senior citizens going for pilgrimages under the state government schemes can soon look forward to undertaking the journey of piety on cruise lines.

Union shipping minister Mansukh Mandaviya said his ministry will be nudging the states having pilgrimage tour initiatives for senior citizens to use the cruise ship route. Such a move will also help popularise cruise shipping, which the country has been aiming to grow for the past few years, he said.

"We want the states to use cruises for the teerth yatra (pilgrimages). Some of our major religious tourism places are on the coast," he said, speaking at an event organised by women seafarers here.

He said states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have policies to organise pilgrimages for senior citizens, where the Centre wants a shift in the mode of transport. He also said many places of religious importance are located on the coast, like Somnath and Dwarka in Gujarat and Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.

Cruise tourism is associated largely with luxury vacations where a ship with tourists sails from one place to another, with its guests disembarking for sightseeing. Typically, a cruise ship has a slew of aspects to keep the guests well entertained, including nightclubs, steam and sauna baths, gambling arenas, dance shows and bars, while for longer sails, they also enjoy days by the swimming pools.

Mandaviya said the government will soon come out with a policy to promote both cruise shipping as well as one to promote inland and coastal shipping.

Facing a litany of concerns on employment opportunities for women by shipping companies, he said the initiatives on cruise, inland and coastal shipping will hopefully make shipping companies hire more women but warned that the government may also make it mandatory to hire certain percentage of women if they continue to be reluctant.

He said, "traditional mindset" prevents women from being allowed to serve on ships, where they have to sail across the globe, but added short duration coastal shipping will take care of such concerns.

Addressing the same event, industry regulator Director General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar said draft guidelines for women aboard ships, which take care of concerns on aspects like sanitation, have been put out for public comments.

They will soon be adopted after the feedback, he said, adding the DGS will also urge foreign vessels to take the same policies on board and if this is successful, present the same to the International Maritime Organisation.

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