In a welcome development, likely to boost cruise tourism in the country, the government has decided to exempt cruise tourists coming in to India on e-visas from biometric enrolment until the end of 2020. The idea behind the decision is to ensure swifter immigration clearance, providing tourists with ample time to spend onshore.
The decision comes at a time when several big ships, ones with as many as 4000 tourists, are slated to deck on Indian ports in 2018 and 2019.
“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 enrolment for a period of three years,” ministry of shipping said in a released statement.
It also noted that the ministry had been exploring ways to make the entire tourist experience hassle-free by working on simpler immigration clearance procedures and easier logistics process.
There is little to contest on the fact that despite having an envious coastline, stretching to well over 7500 kilometres, India has not yet been able to tap the lucrative cruise tourism market. In recent years, the government has been willing to look at ways to open up this segment with a liberal cruise tourism policy in the offing, and developing requisite infrastructure to entertain mega ships. There is still a long way to go before India can stake its claim as a serious player in this segment, but these are steps in the right direction.
Complicated laws and high number of procedures deter cruise ships from venturing in to Indian shores. With the government simplifying processes, cruise tourists are more likely to take to India.