Foreign tourists can now directly fly to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as the government has designated Port Blair airport as an authorised immigration check post for entry into and exit point from India.
The decision to open up the Andaman and Nicobar Islands directly for foreign tourists came after it was found to be the most sought-after tourist destination in the country receiving an average four lakh tourists, including several thousand foreigners, annually.
"....the central government hereby designates Port Blair airport of Union territory of the 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," a Home Ministry notification said.
The Superintendent of Police (CID) of the Island has been designated as the "civil authority" for the immigration check post at Port Blair airport with effect from Monday.
According to data available with the Home Ministry, 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, till 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, had visited the Andaman, and in 2015, a total of 3,11,358 tourists, including 14,674 foreigners, had gone to the union territory, the data revealed.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a union territory and comes under the administrative control of the Home Ministry.
The island was under global spotlight recently after the killing of a 27-year-old American national by members of a highly protected tribe, Sentinelese, in prohibited North Sentinel Island in November.
The archipelago has been inhabited for several thousand years, at the very least.
The earlier archaeological evidence so far documented goes back some 2,200 years. However, indications from genetic, cultural and linguistic isolation studies point to habitation going back 30,00060,000 years, well into the Middle Palaeolithic period, according to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands tourism Department.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced renaming of three islands of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago as a tribute to freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
The Ross Island was renamed as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, the Neil Island as Shaheed Dweep and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep.