No biometric for e-visa cruisers

Cruise tourists arriving in India with a valid e-visa are exempted from biometric enrolment for a period of three years, that is, till December 31, 2020, according to an official notice.

TT BUREAU

I n 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 enrolment for a period of three years, that is, till December 31, 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 to include a destination in their itinerary.

Satyajeet Rajan, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, said, “The decision to do away with the biometric system for international cruise visitors travelling to India on e-Visa is a very good one. According to international standards, cruise passengers should be able to disembark within half an hour but in India, this process was taking much longer as there are not enough counters to facilitate this service. This issue was taken up by the Ministry of Home in collaboration with MOT and Ministry of Shipping and it was thus mutually decided to do away with the biometric system entirely until 2021.”

Commenting on this development, Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust, says, “This will hugely benefit cruise passengers with their quick processing and allow them more time to experience this fabulous city. The order is effective December 20, 2017.”

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. 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. In November 2017, major ports reduced their tariffs for three years by 42-67 per cent to make it attractive for cruise lines to visit India

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