In a bid to make travelling to India more comfortable and convenient for tourists, the Indian government has launched a new initiative of pre-loaded SIM cards on arrival. Launched by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, the pre-loaded SIM cards will be available for foreign tourists arriving in India on e-Visa. This initiative is in partnership with telecom operator BSNL and will initially be available at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (T3 Terminal) at New Delhi. The pre-loaded SIM cards will eventually be available at the remaining 15 international airports in the country where e-Visa facility is available.
Foreign tourists who are visiting India will receive the SIM cards on arrival itself. For this procedure, one must submit their e-Visa copy and the first page of their passports as well. PTI reports that the procedure and activation of the SIM cards would take about two hours to complete. These BSNL SIM cards will be pre-loaded with talktime of Rs 50 and also 50MB of data and will have a validity of 30 days. Moreover, the expenses on the SIM cards are said to be carried out by the Ministry itself from the tourism promotion budget. The SIM cards will be available at the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) counters at the airports.
In addition to making communication easier for tourists, these SIM cards are also aimed at contacting the 24×7 multi-lingual toll free helpline recently launched by the Ministry of Tourism. The toll free helpline is currently available in 12 languages which include Japanese, Russian and German. The reason why the pre-loaded SIM card facility would be available for e-Visa tourists only was because of the convenience of information available, PTI reports. Information on e-Visas is readily available and thus, syncing it immediately with the data required for the SIM cards is easier and faster. The e-Visa service began in 2014, and is currently available for 161 countries. Tourists who are on casual visits for leisure, recreation, business, and short medical treatments are applicable to avail an e-Visa.
Dr Mahesh Sharma on launching this initiative said that “this unique initiative will facilitate the foreign tourists in communicating with their acquaintances immediately after their arrival in India.” Making the launch official, the Minister unveiled the first SIM kit to an audience which included Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, JS Deepak, Secretary, Minister of Communications and senior officers. ALSO READ: BSNL partners Tata Communications to set up 44 million Wi-Fi hotspots abroad
Image Credits: PTI