A big change for visiting yachts as the restriction is lifted through 2022
"There is a big change in the Andaman Islands of India for visiting yachts… they are no longer restricted by the 30 days stay regulation", reports R. Rathnam, heading up Asia Pacific Superyachts Andaman Islands, India.
"The restricted area permit (RAP) is now completely removed and foreigners may stay as long as desired, per the visa validity. Thus, yachts may now stay for much longer than 30 days if they wish", he explains: "Before yachts interested in long stay had to leave the country and then return. The crew had to have a multiple entry visa if they wanted to spend more than 30 days in the Andamans. Now crew and guests may visit with a single entry visa and stay as long as they want as per the validity of the visa".
In a major move to boost tourism in the Andamans, the Indian government decided to remove the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from 29 islands in the Andamans for foreigners. So, now yachts planning a trip to the gorgeous Andaman & Nicobar Islands will no longer require RAP to visit these islands in the Union Territory; the restriction has been lifted through December 31, 2022. The RAP is notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963.
Lifting of RAP means that now people from the other countries can also visit Havelock, North Andaman, Smith Island, East Island, Curfew Island, Tillang Chong Island, Katchal, Nancowry, Ayes Island, Middle Andaman, Interview Island, Teressa, North Passage, Baratang, South Andaman, Neil Island, Flat Bay, North Sentinel Island, Little Andaman, Chowra, Great Nicobar, Stewart Island, Kamorta, Pulomilo, Strait Island, Long Island, Little Nicobar, Narcondam Island and Land Fall Island without any permit. Not only this, but foreigners can also visit the 11 uninhabited Islands here, though only for a day.
Visitors will still require separate approvals of the authorities for visiting reserved forests, wildlife sanctuaries and tribal reserves, as in the past, adds Mr Rathnam: "Some of the islands may require a permit from the tribal department or forest department. Earlier most of the tribal reserve and forest reserve areas were totally banned for tourists. Now it is open with permission from the concerned authorities".
Many boats arrive in Port Blair from Phuket, Thailand and Langkawi, Malaysia and other destinations, bringing friends, family and crew members to join in exploring the beautiful islands. Those arriving may come as a group by yacht or fly into Port Blair to join the visiting yacht. Sharing the natural beauty of the Andamans is at the heart of the visitors to India’s most remote state, the Andaman Islands Archipelago. Situated more than 1000km off the east coast in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, the archipelago is thickly covered by deep green tropical forest that supports a profusion of wildlife, including some extremely rare species of birds.
However, the principal attraction lies in the beaches, exploring and the pristine reefs that ring most of the islands. Visiting yachts have found Mr Rathnam and his APS team to be of major assistance with customs formalities, the route to Port Blair, custom itinerary planning, provisioning and advice on berthing and anchoring.