Mumbai-Goa catamaran service to be launched soon

Panaji: Tired of booking expensive flight tickets to Goa? If the efforts of Goa's Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and Mumbai Port Trust pan out, a cheap catamaran service may help to fuel Goa's tourism story further.

Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of a media event in Panaji late Tuesday, chairman of MPT Cyril George said he had received written consent from his counterpart in the Mumbai port facility and a cheaper catamaran ferry service could begin in as soon as two months.

"This service will be able to serve tourists and a pleasure for passengers. It will be convenient and nature friendly," George said. The top official said the two port bodies were speaking to two private agencies, who were keen on operating the catamaran service, which George said, will help tourists travel to and from Goa, with a lesser toll on their wallets.

"You may be feeling that to travel from Goa to Bombay (and vice versa) especially during New Year is expensive or tickets are not available. This (catamaran) may be the answer," George said. Before the advent of the Konkan Railway and the airline tickets got cheaper, the only modes of transport from Mumbai to Goa and vice versa were either an overnight bus journey over coarse roads or hopping onto a steamer which would take 24 hours to coast over the passage.

In 80s, the steamers were commandeered into service during the Indian peace keeping force operations in Sri Lanka only to be replaced by swanky privately operated catamarans more than a decade back, a service which died a quick death because of commercial non-viability.

George claims a lot had changed since the failed private catamaran enterprise and that the dynamics or marine travel and interest in Goa had changed. "There was a ship service 10 years ago. The situation has changed a lot like the culture, attitudes, picnic, economy, etc.

Now a lot of people want to visit Goa," George said, adding that the MPT was also planning two marinas and a ferry service in Goa's territorial waters. Goa is known as one of the best beach tourism destination in the country and attracts nearly four million tourists every year.

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