In order to make India an attractive cruise tourist destination, the Ministry of Home Affairs has agreed to the request of the Ministry of Shipping to exempt cruise tourists arriving with e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrolment for a period of three years i.e. 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 Ministry of Shipping has been working towards simplifying the immigration clearance procedure to offer hassle free logistics process to cruise tourists 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 & 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. Hence, there was a 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 – 67 per cent to make it attractive for cruise lines to visit India. Major ports now change a single comprehensive uniform rate of USD$ 0.35 per GRT.