Mumbai Port Authority (MbPA) is in talks with the Union ministries of home affairs and foreign affairs urging to ease the e-visa process requirement of biometric enrollment for cruise passengers.
Speaking to the FPJ, MbPA chairman Rajeev Jalota said that it is a critical subject of discussion and they have been doing meetings with the departments concerned. "At present in Mumbai and other major ports, the cruise passengers are expected to arrive on e-visa. Biometrics of the passengers are required at port on first arrival for immigration clearance. However, this fingerprint/biometric immigration procedure takes a lot of time. Many of the cruise ships coming to India are mega ships with 2,000–4,000 passengers on board. Hence, we are thinking of other alternatives which can reduce the time," he explained.
"If the cruise is coming from a particular country, our people will board the ship from that place so that the biometrics can be done and until the cruise comes to Mumbai the process can be completed and time of passengers can be saved. However, it is yet to be finalized," Jalota added.
In fact, in January 2018, to make India attractive to cruise passengers and to promote cruise tourism in the country, Ministry of Home Affairs at the request of Ministry of Shipping, had exempted cruise tourists arriving with evisa from the requirement of biometric enrolment for a period of three years i.e. till December 31, 2020. This was to facilitate expeditious immigration clearance of cruise passengers with e-visa enabling them to spend more time on shore.
As every sector is now operating in full strength following the ease of Covid-19 induced pandemic lockdown restrictions, the Mumbai Port Authority is also now slowly focussing on improving cruise tourism.
According to a 2016 report by this authority, the cruise potential in India is 4 million passengers with 3.2 million from Mumbai. In fact, cruise tourism in the future will drive the economy, the study reveals. The MbPA is also conducting the first international cruise conference on May 14 and 15 in Mumbai to showcase the infrastructure for international cruise service providers.
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