In order to promote cruise tourism in the
country, and make India an attractive cruise tourist destination, the Home Ministry
at the instance of Shipping Ministry has exempted cruise tourists arriving with
e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrolment for a period of three years
till 31.12.2020. This will make immigration
clearance of such passengers faster, leaving them with more time to spend on
shore. This is also an important factor that helps cruise lines decide whether
or not to include a destination in their itinerary.
The Shipping Ministry has been working
towards simplifying the immigration clearance procedure and providing
passengers with a customer friendly and hassle free logistics process when they
embark on or disembark from their cruise at the Indian ports.
E-Visa has been in place in the five
major ports of Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin and Chennai. Till now biometrics of passengers were
required at port of first arrival for immigration clearance. However, with the existing facilities at the
cruise terminals at these ports, the immigration procedure was taking more than
the internationally accepted norm of clearing immigration for all cruise
passengers in a maximum of 90 minutes.
This is especially significant because,
as per the schedule of arrivals of cruise ships for the current cruise season
2017-18 and 2019-20, many of the cruise ships coming to India are mega ships
with 2000-4000 passengers on board. Most
of these cruise passengers are expected to arrive on E-Visa, and biometric
enrolment of all these passengers would slow down immigration clearance. Hence the need for the exemption.
This simplified immigration clearance
procedure is part of a series of steps to attract and to enhance cruise
passenger experience at the major ports.
The standard operating procedures to handle cruise was revised earlier and
is being implemented uniformly at all ports.
In November, 2017 major ports reduced their tariffs for 3 years by 42 to
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 US dollars per GRT.