In another major push to encourage e-visa and to promote tourism in India, Govt. of India has announced a major scheme which will immensely help foreign tourists.
Henceforth, all foreign tourists with e-visa shall get a free BSNL SIM Card, which would be loaded with Rs 50 talktime and 50 MB data.
This special scheme was launched by Tourism minister Mahesh Sharma, and he got this ‘idea’ when he recently visited Sri Lanka, where foreign tourists are provided the same.
While inaugurating this scheme, he said, “The initiative will help the tourists to immediately communicate with their relatives at home, hotels, tour operators and so on. I got this idea when I had got a similar card when I had visited Sri Lanka,”
In the pilot phase, these free SIM Cards would be provided for tourists arriving at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, which would be soon extended to 15 other international airports, where e-visa facility is right now available.
These pre-loaded SIM Cards will have a validity of 30 days, and will help the tourists to instantly connect with 24-hour tourist helpline number which is available in 12 international languages. This special helpline number: 1800111363 was also launched along with SIM Card.
Tour operators’ body Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has hailed this initiative, as it will directly benefit more than a million tourists from 161 countries who arrive in India using e-visa facility. Right now, tourists needs to spend close to 5-6 hours for activating a new SIM Card, and after providing relevant documents.
But from now, they shall get it for free, and on arrival with instant activation.
India Association of Tour Operators senior vice-president Rajeev Kohli said,
“I think we are the first country to give free SIM cards to the tourists. Its a great gesture and will make the arrival experience better for the travellers,”
Interestingly, free SIM Card offer has been extended to only e-visa holders, as their complete information is already available with the authorities, using which the SIM Card registration is done.
Observers see this scheme as a major incentive for choosing e-visa facility, whose popularity is increasing every day. Launched in 2014, e-visa registrations witnessed massive 724% growth by September 2015, which was extended to 36 more countries by January 2016.
Last year in May, we reported 266% growth in e-visa in a single month, as we found that UK sent maximum number of tourists under this visa system.