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Guwahati: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the world's longest river cruise on January 13 in Varanasi, which the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal said will herald a new age of river cruise tourism for India.
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 Mr Sonowal.
Speaking to reporters here, Mr 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".
Mr 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.
The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is curated to bring out the best of the country to be showcased to the world.
The 51 days 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 MV Ganga Vilas vessel is 62 metres in length and 12 meters in width and comfortably sails with a draft of 1.4 meters.
It has three decks, and 18 suites on board with a capacity of 36 tourists, with all the amenities to provide a memorable and luxurious experience for the tourists.
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.
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.
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.
Mr Sonowal added that the construction of 10 passenger terminals across NW2 is going on which will further bolster the prospect of a river cruise.