Travelling to the Maldives might just get a little more exciting with the government now considering starting a sea route facility to the smallest Asian country. The shipping ministry in order to boost tourism to and from the Maldives will run a passenger liner for travellers either from Cochin port or the Tuticorin port.
“We are examining the projects. We are in discussion with the Maldives government on the modalities for a ferry service and development of ports for trade and tourism,” said K Mohandas, secretary-shipping ministry. A delegation led by the secretary, shipping, along with chairpersons of Cochin and Tuticorin Port Trust, an official from DG Shipping and Shipping Corporation of India are currently visiting the Maldives.
The sea route to the Maldives is expected to take about 30 hours to travel. The cost parameters are still being studied. Government officials will visit the ports as well as the Maldives to understand the demand and the economic viability of the project. “At this stage, we don’t have any details about the cost and frequency of such a service to the Maldives. But after Sri Lanka, this is the second neighbouring country to which we want to provide easy access,” Mohandas added.
Last month, the shipping ministry started a sea route to Sri Lanka from the Tuticorin port. The shipping service, which runs twice a week, costs about $50 for a passenger, with travelling time of 12 hours. The ship called Scotia Prince with capacity to ferry 1,044 passengers is operated by Flemingo Liners.
The Maldives is towards south of Lakshadweep Islands where the Indian Navy had captured 28 Somali pirates in February this year. “The Indian Navy has been guarding the area very well ever since the last incident occurred. Security will not be an issue,” Mohandas said.
According to tourist arrival figures of the Maldives for 2009, China ranks fourth among the top 10 tourism destinations, with over 69,000 arrivals. India stands at the 10th position with over 15,800 tourists visiting the country. In 2009, the Maldives’ total tourist arrivals were 655,852.