From the beginning of November, overseas passengers travelling to India on cruise ships will be able purchase e-visas.
A number of other measures are set to be implemented from the coming season that begins in November as the government attempts to boost cruise tourism, according to the local media outlet, Indian Express.
Currently, persons from other countries who intend to make casual, recreational, medical and business trips to India are eligible to apply for e-visas.
Following a report from consultants, Beremello, Ajamil and Partners, saying that the country’s ports have the potential to attract 4.5 mill cruise ship passengers by 2042-43, a task force has been put together, comprising secretaries of shipping and tourism ministries to work on an action plan.
Within the task force, a committee has been set up to compile the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all stakeholders. It is headed by Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) Chairman, Sanjay Bhatia.
The committee, which is to draft a new SOP for the coming season, held its first meeting last week. “E-visa is available in only a few countries at present and we are starting it here for cruise passengers,” Bhatia reportedly said, according to the Indian Express.
Cruise ships bound for Indian ports would be equipped with systems to enable overseas passengers to apply for e-visas on board three days prior to their arrival.
New cruise terminals have been planned for Mumbai, Goa, New Mangalore, Cochin and Chennai. For example, the MbPT has invited tenders to build a 34,000 sq m terminal to accommodate large cruise ships. It is estimated to cost Rs197 crore.
One berth at each port will be dedicated for the use of cruise ships. The existing policy that requires cruise operators to submit arrival schedules two years ahead is set to be repealed. Cabotage restrictions against allowing foreign cruise ships to handle Indian passengers on board at any port has also been lifted.
At present, any non-Indian national travelling on a cruise ship must be in possession of a visa, whether they intend to go ashore or not.