The e-visa facility is available for passengers arriving by cruise ship at Mumbia, Cochin, Mormugao, Chennai and New Mangalore. Until now, biometrics were a requirement at the first port of arrival.
At the request of the Ministry of Shipping (MoS), the Ministry of Home Affairs issued the waiver notice which will run for three years until end December 2020.
‘This will be immensely helpful to cruising in India,’ Gautam Dey, senior deputy traffic manager at Mumbai Port Trust, told Seatrade Cruise News.
The new ruling was rubber-stamped just a week after the issue of the lengthy immigration process at Indian ports was aired by several cruise line executives during a panel discussion looking at India’s cruising aspirations during the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum in Dubai.
Some of the cruise line executives attending the Forum in early December stressed that their passengers faced long queues on arrival, resulting in above the international norm of immigration clearance time of inside 90 minutes due to insufficient numbers of immigration counters and staff to process visitors.
The simplified immigration clearance procedure, along with port fees restructuring (major ports now charge a single uniform rate of 35 cents per gross ton) and standard operating procedures are all recent key actions taken by the Indian government driven by the MoS and Ministry of Tourism to bring India’s cruise operations in line with international best practices.