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Government plans to provide SIM cards to e-tourist visa holders on entry


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Tourists landing in India with an e-tourist visa, will soon get a ‘gift kit’ on entering the country, consisting of a SIM card among other things, reports the Tribune. The SIM card will be handed over on arrival, although tourists will have to first recharge it to make use of it.

Other than this, the kit will also contain maps, booklets and a CD with information about various tourist destinations, guidelines for do’s & don’ts, emergency contacts and other useful material. The initiative will currently cover only tourists arriving on e-tourist visa’s, with plans to extend it to other visa categories eventually.

Growth in e-tourist visa’s: In October 2015, a total of 56,477 e-Tourist Visa were issued compared to 2,705 during the month of October 2014, registering a growth of 1987.9% year on year. The government attributed the high growth rate to introduction of e-Tourist Visa for 113 countries as against coverage of earlier Tourist Visa on Arrival scheme for 12 countries.

During January-October, 2015 a total of 2,58,182 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 21,995 during January-October, 2014 registering a growth of 1073.8%. The top countries applying for these Visas included UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia and Canada. The Tourist Visa on Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme was launched by the Government in November 2014.

MediaNama’s take: This initiative should make life for tourists easier. To get a SIM, consumers usually need to submit an ID proof and fill forms etc., which can be worked around as tourists using the e-Visa, already fill their details online. With number portability getting common, it should easy to switch carriers in case they want to get other plans. Overall, it will save tourists the hassle of getting a new SIM card in a foreign country.

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Image source: Flickr user Baigal Byamba. CC license.

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