The Union Home Ministry has sanctioned a proposal to give SIM cards to foreigners who visit India on e-tourist visas, reported PTI. The plan is likely to be enforced by the end of September. Tourism Secretary Vinod Zutshi said, “I think the facility will probably be launched on World Tourism Day that falls on September 27.”
Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said the home ministry gave its approval after several meetings, while another official told PTI that the aim of the move was to make India a global tourist destination among foreign travellers. He added that equipping tourists with mobile phones will also help them make calls in times of distress.
The ministry has roped in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited to roll out the service. Tourism Secretary Zutshi said the state-run telecom operator has agreed and added, “The last level discussion is going on.”
The tourism ministry has planned to provide a welcome kit that the foreign travellers can get from any BSNL counter on their arrival. The package will have a SIM card with a certain talktime amount, a list of Dos and Don’ts, maps, booklets with information about various destinations and a few emergency contact numbers. However, the talktime amount is yet to be decided.
The e-tourist visa scheme, which was launched on November 27, 2014, allows a foreign traveller to show only a printout of an authorisation mail to the immigration authorities. This facility is currently available for citizens of 150 countries.