Minister of state (independent charge) for tourism and culture Mahesh Sharma launched the initiative of providing pre-loaded Sim cards to foreign tourists arriving in India on e-visa at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the capital this week.
''This unique initiative will facilitate foreign tourists in communicating with their acquaintances immediately after their arrival in India, Sharma said.
Earlier, the ministry of tourism had launched a 24 x 7 Tourist Helpline 1800111363 in 12 foreign languages so that foreign tourists can get the required information in their own language. The minister presented the first kit containing the Sim to a representative of travel and tourism sector.
The initiative has been launched in association with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), wherein BSNL would distribute pre-loaded Sim cards to foreign tourists arriving in India on e-Visa. This facility will be initially available at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (T3 Terminal), New Delhi and would later cover remaining 15 international airports, where e-Visa facility is currently available.
To avail pre-loaded Sim Card, BSNL will collect e-Visa copy and the first page of passport from foreign tourists on arrival at the airport. This facility is only available for tourists arriving in India on e-Visa. Sim cards will be pre-loaded with a value of Rs50 talk time and 50 MB data and will be activated on immediate basis so as to enable them use this facility instantly. This initiative is also aimed at providing connectivity to foreign tourists to enable them to stay in touch with their near and dear ones and also help them to contact with the 24x7 multi lingual toll free helpline of the ministry of tourism for any assistance and guidance during times of distress / medical emergency, etc.
The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) said that any traveller heading to India could get Indian network Sim cards easily in the country. Earlier tourists had to go through "red tape" that could eat up an entire day to receive a single Sim card for instant communication and smartphone Internet access in the country.
At present, India allows foreign visitors from 150 countries apply their visa for only a week if they provide the necessary qualifications from their home countries.