Immigration Norms Eased for Cruise Tourists with E-Visa Arriving in India
Tourists who come to India via cruise with e-visa will be exempted from biometric enrollment until 2020.
Tourists who come to Indian shores via cruise with e-visa will now be exempted from biometric enrollment until Dec. 31, 2020. Biometrics were a requirement for immigration clearance at the port of first arrival, which could be Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Kochi and Chennai.
The current immigration procedure was taking more than the internationally accepted time of 90 minutes for clearing all cruise passengers. Most current cruise passengers are expected to arrive on e-visa, and biometric enrollment of all these passengers would slow down immigration clearance. Granting e-visas, three days prior to arrival at an Indian port, was started in November 2017.
“In order to promote cruise tourism in the country, and make India an attractive cruise tourist destination, the Ministry of Home Affairs has, on request of the Ministry of Shipping, exempted cruise tourists arriving with e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrollment for a period of three years i.e. till December 31, 2020,” a government statement said.
The shipping ministry has been working towards simplifying the immigration clearance procedure and providing passengers with a customer friendly and hassle-free logistics process upon arrival at or departure from the Indian ports, the statement added.
The move will make the immigration process faster, leaving tourists to spend more time onshore, a factor that contributes to whether a destination is included in a cruise ship itinerary. In 2017-18 and 2019-20, mega ships with 2,000-4,000 passengers onboard are set to come to India.
The simplified immigration process is a part of a series of steps designed to enhance passenger experience at ports. In November last year, the standard operating procedures for cruise handling were revised and are being implemented at all these ports. “Major ports reduced their tariffs for three years by 42-67 per cent to make it attractive for cruise lines to visit India. Major ports now change a single comprehensive uniform rate of $0.35 per GRT (gross register tonnage),” the government said.
Cruising in Asia saw an annual growth rate of almost 40 per cent since 2012 to reach 3.7 million passengers by the end of 2017, according to the Asia Cruise Trends 2017 report. The report attributed the increase to the growing market in China and India.