Foreigners visiting India will no longer have to worry about the difficulties that they were previously subjected to in getting a local SIM card in the country.
The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) said Thursday foreigners with e-visas landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi will be provided with a SIM card from state-run telecom operator, BSNL. 15 other airports in the country, who have the provisions for e-visas, will soon initiate the program as well, the association said.
Tourists will now be only required to present a copy of their e-visa and the first page of the passport for proof to get the SIM card, the association added. The SIM card will be loaded with a credit of Rs 50 (85 cents) for making calls, and 50MB data for internet usage. It will be active for a month, and tourists will be able to avail the 24-hour helpline made for them, which is available in 12 languages.
The Indian government offers e-visa facility to over 150 countries, giving those people an option to apply for the visa only four days ahead of their arrival in the nation.
Getting a SIM card has been a pain point for foreigners who have been until now required to go through a fairly lengthy procedure for that. A range of documents including a proof of identity, a photocopy of passport with valid visa stamp, proof of address along with the address of local reference, and photographs among other details were previously required at the time of applying for a new mobile connection, which took days to get activated.
“The initiative will help tourists immediately communicate with their relatives back home, hotels, tour operators and so on. I got this idea when I received a similar card on visiting Sri Lanka,” tourism minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma was quoted as saying.
The Union Minister had announced his intentions to introduce this program last year. The move could also help the country attract more tourists. India was the 38th most visited place in 2014 and tourism contributed as much as 6.77 percent to the country’s total GDP in 2014, according to the National Council for Applied Economic Research.