NEW DELHI: Andaman and Nicobar Islands will become more accessible to foreign tourists as the Centre has designated Port Blair as an authorised immigration check post for entry into and exit from India, meaning that foreign tourists with valid travel documents can now directly fly to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In a notification, the Union Home Ministry said, “In pursuance of sub-rule (b) of rule 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950, the Central government hereby designates Port Blair airport of Union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands as an authorised immigration check post for entry into/exit from India with valid travel documents for all classes of passengers.”
In another notification, the home ministry appointed the Superintendent of Police, CID, the Andaman and Nicobar Police, as the “civil authority” for the immigration check post at Port Blair airport with effect from December 31, 2018. The Andamans has emerged as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the country, receiving on an average four lakh tourists, including several thousand foreigners, annually.
According to ministry statistics, more than 16 lakh tourists visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands between 2015 and October this year to enjoy the natural beauty, beaches, flora and fauna and historically-significant landmarks in around 38 inhabited islands out of the 572 islets. The archipelago has received 4,02,393 tourists, including 11,818 foreigners, until October 2018, while it received 4,87,229 tourists, including 15,310 foreigners in 2017.
In 2016, as many as 4,00,019 tourists, including 15,467 foreigners, visited the Andamans. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the renaming of three islands of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago as a tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Ross Island was renamed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, Neil Island is now Shaheed Dweep, and Havelock Island was renamed Swaraj Dweep.