With over 7,000 km of coastline, India has a big potential for marine transport, but the lack of infrastructure is a major obstacle, a British businessman of Indian origin who has a major stake in the sector, has said.
"It was 15 years back that I wanted to build a marina in India, but 10 years ago the permission got cancelled (in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack). At that time I did see huge potential...India has over 7,800 km of coastline and sadly there are no marinas," Gulu Lalvani, Chairman of the Royal Phuket Marina, that combines luxury waterfront living with a state-of-the-art marina. told IANS.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the "Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous 2019" here that brought together all major parties involved in recent marine and luxury lifestyle events.
According to Lalvani, although the weather is not congenial for boating and yachting during the monsoon, the period from October to May can be utilised.
"The east coast from Chennai to Kolkata... why not utilise that? That is really a waste of coastline."
He also noted that high duties on imported boats, along with lack of "world-class" facilities for yachting, have hindered India's boating industry.
He was of the view that Indian enthusiasts who like to experience boating and own boats should buy these in Thailand and anchor them in Phuket. People can come to Phuket by the recently-started direct flights in a few hours and enjoy boating, he said.
"In India, import taxes on boats are 60 per cent. If somebody buys a boat and wishes to import it and keep it in India, they have to pay 60 per cent of the value of the boat in tax. That makes it very expensive and is a major reason why Indian boating has not developed to the same extent as other areas.
"Also, the lack of world-class yachting facilities and cruising grounds means it is not appealing to keep a boat in India," Lalvani pointed out.
He said that in Phuket while the import duty is zero, the yachting infrastructure is "world-class" and the cruising area is "one of the best in the world".
Lalvani also noted that "with direct flights from Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru to Phuket by GoAir, Phuket is even more accessible than ever".
"So when these flights started I wanted the Indian population to know that to have a luxury lifestyle the best way to do that is boating, and boats here are duty-free."
Lalvani constructed the marina in Phuket in 2005 after the Thai government reduced the tax on imported boats to zero per cent on his advice.