International visitors who have the Electronic Tourist Visa (ETV) facility would get free SIM cards on their arrival to India. The arrangement is aimed at attracting more tourists and raising India’s image as a global tourist destination. This move also aimed to address security concerns, helping tourists’ access telecoms services to make calls.
Ministry of Tourism has made this proposal and this has been accepted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).They had opted for BSNL SIM cards, since it is a state-owned telecom company. The inter-ministerial committee involving officials from tourism, home, telecom and finance ministries has been set up to finalise the modalities, but a final decision is still awaited.
The ETV facility by the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) enables authorisation to be done electronically. The visitor should apply and pay fee for an Indian visa from their home country through online. On its approval, they should carry the print out and present the authorisation to the immigration authorities. They would stamp the entry into the country on their arrival.
The SIM cards are to be handed out along with a welcome kit, and will be valid for 30 days. The tourist will be given a kit that will a include SIM cards, maps, tourism booklets and information about tourist destinations, guidelines and details in case of any emergency. Importantly, the tourists often face problems in getting SIM cards in India. This facility is available to citizens of 150 countries and is described as a ‘game changer’ for tourism.