Home Ministry of India with collaboration with BSNL has given permission to provide SIM card to the tourists visiting India on e-tourists visa, by September end. The Union Tourism Minister, Mahesh Sharma has mentioned that, “we had a number of meetings with the Home Ministry with regard to providing SIM card to foreigner tourists when they land in India. The ministry has finally agreed to our proposal. Now, it will take some time to start the facility”.
The primary aim of this particular step is to project India as an international tourist destination in the minds of overseas travellers, as providing local SIM card will address the security issues associated with tourists, as they can make and receive calls in case of any emergency.
It was observed that it was difficult for foreign tourists to procure SIM cards, which make it difficult for them to communicate and has to depend on telephone booths. This problem will also be solved with this facility of Home Ministry of India. The SIM card will be offered with the welcome kit, which will be pre-loaded with talk time. The ‘welcome kit’ will consist of a do’s and don’ts list, maps, tourism booklet with necessary information about different tourist places and emergency phone numbers along with the SIM card.
But until now it is yet to be decided that how much money should be loaded in the SIM card. As per the Tourism Secretary, Vinod Zutshi, “the e-tourist visa holders could get the welcome kit which would include a SIM card from BSNL counter as soon asthey come out the airport. BSNL has agreed…the last level discussion is going on”.
They are planning to launch this facility on World Tourism day that is 27th September. This facility is available under e-tourist visa in which a candidate is authorised to travel to India via an e-mail, which could be carried by the tourist as proof of authorisation. On arrival at the airport, the tourist has to show the authorisation letter to the immigration authorities for getting a stamp to enter the country.
The e-tourist visa was launched on 27th November 2014, and was initially available for the residents of 113 countries and in 16 airports in India. On 26th February the facility was further extended for the residents of more 37 countries. Now it has become a popular facility amongst the foreign tourists, and shows a growth of 200% in the number of foreign travellers visiting India that is from 21,276 tourists last year to 68,400 tourists visited till July this year.
It was noticed that in the last month it was the tourists from UK who occupied the top position which was followed by US and France.
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