In a bid to encourage India’s cruise tourism, tourists arriving in cruises with e-visas will now no longer require biometric enrolment until 31 December 2020, the Indian government said on 2 January.
With this move, immigration clearance will be hastened for these passengers, providing them more time to spend on land, said the government. It added that this would prove very crucial for assisting in cruise lines to take a call to decide if a destination had to be included in their itinerary or not.
The move is considered significant because, in the schedule of cruise ships arrivals for season 2017-18 and 2019-20, most cruise ships travelling to India are mega ships with at least 2,000 -4,000 passengers travelling on them.
The Ministry of Shipping was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying in a statement that India was encouraging cruise tourism on its territory so that it would be viewed as an enticing cruise tourist destination, and on the request of the Ministry of Shipping, the Ministry of Home Affairs will allow cruise tourists to arrive with e-visas without the need for biometric enrolment for a three-year period, i.e. until 31 December 2020.
The Ministry of Shipping has been singularly working to ease the procedure of immigration clearance and to provide passengers a visitor-friendly and logistics process that is free of hassles when they are either embarking on or disembarking from their cruises at ports of India.
E-visa is operational in India’s five major ports of Cochin & Chennai, Mumbai, New Mangalore and Mormugao.
Until now, passengers had to provide biometrics at first arrival port for immigration clearance.
But the existing facilities at these ports cruise terminals was taking more time for the immigration procedure than the globally accepted norm of immigration clearance for all passengers arriving on cruises in a maximum of one and half hours, the government said.
With the majority of the current cruise passengers expecting to land in India on e-visa, biometric enrolment of all these passengers would slacken immigration clearance.
The relaxed procedure for immigration clearance is part of a series of measures to lure and improve the experience of cruise passenger at the major ports.
To manage cruises, the standard operating procedures were changed earlier and are being introduced consistently at all ports.
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