The Union Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval for the MoU between India and Maldives for the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea, which was signed on June 8, 2019 during the visit of Prime Minister of India to Maldives.
India is a leading development partner of Maldives and has established many of the leading institutions of Maldives. Currently, India has provided US $100 million Stand-by Credit facility (SCF) to Maldives, including long-term loans and revolving credit for trade.
Male, the capital and most populous city and Kulhudhuffushi, the third most populous city of Maldives are good prospects for introduction of ferry service from Kochi for both tourists as well as cargo. While Male is situated at a distance of 708 Kms from Kochi, Kulhudhuffushi is 509 Kms away. Kulhudhuffushi and the islands around are a major population centre in the northern part of Maldives and have a large number of resorts which could be possible tourist destinations for Indians. Present connectivity involves flights to Male and sea planes to the resorts, which is an expensive option. On the other hand, connectivity with Kochi through sea could promote inbound tourism, particularly health and wellness tourism for India. A large number of Maldivians also travel to Kerala and other South Indian cities for educational purposes.
With a view to harness the potential opportunity that lies in passenger and cargo transportation by sea between the two countries, this MoU with Maldives has been signed. The proposed ferry service would contribute in a big way to promote people to people contact and to boost bilateral trade.