Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday stressed the need to improve waterways in the country to cut down the cost of logistics, which, he said, will boost the economy and tourism sector.

He was addressing a gathering after launching a ferry boat service between Vasco and Old Goa, connecting North Goa and South Goa districts in the coastal state popular for its scenic beaches among domestic and foreign tourists.

“Our country has a 7,500-km-long coastline, which can help in the nation’s development while also giving a boost to tourism,” he said.

“You have seen that the coastline has been a boon to Goa’s tourism and the biggest advantage of tourism is that 49 per cent of the capital investment is utilised for job creation,” he said.

“I am a minister for national highways, and if one wants to travel by road, the cost is Rs 1.5 (per km), by railways the cost is Re 1 (per km) and by water, the cost is 20 paise (per km),” Gadkari said.

The biggest need in India is to cut the cost of logistics, he said.

“To cut down on the logistics’ cost, we will have to push for water transportation. Therefore, developing the 7,500-km-long coastline as a corridor for goods and passenger traffic will be a boost to our economy,” he said.

He said waterways will reduce pollution and help foreign and domestic tourists travel to their hotel by boats.

As a result, diesel consumption will reduce and people will enjoy another facet of tourism by travelling on water, he said.

“This is a win-win situation. This can create new jobs,” the minister said, and asked why all hotels cannot be linked to waterways by creating jetties everywhere.

The ferry boat service launched today is a joint venture of the Mormugao Port Trust and Drishti Marine, an agency engaged in beach management in Goa.

“The ferry service is aimed at adding yet another layer of quality experience to tourists visiting the coastal state as well as locals looking to travel to their respective destinations from the airport or to the airport from different parts of Goa,” said Ravi Shankar, the chief executive officer of Drishti Marine.