Foreign tourists traveling to India can now avail prepaid SIM card kits at the airport arrival counters. The Ministry of Tourism in partnership with state-owned telco BSNL will distribute prepaid SIM cards initially at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (T3 Terminal), New Delhi and later extend the service to 15 international airports. Note that SIM cards are provided only to tourists holding an e-Visa, so that user verification can be done easily.
To avail a prepaid SIM card, BSNL will collect e-Visa copy and the first page of passport at counters across the airport. SIM cards will be pre-loaded with Rs. 50 worth of talk time and 50 MB data and activation is done instantly. However, it’s not clear whether the SIM cards are provided for free or charged. Apart from this, tourists have a dedicated 24×7 multilingual toll-free helpline set up by Ministry of Tourism for assistance, medical emergencies, etc. The government had been planning to provide the initiative since January last year. At that time, the plan was to provide a “kit” which contains maps, booklets and a CD with information about various tourist destinations, guidelines, emergency contacts and other useful material.
Note that e-Visa facility is currently available to citizens arriving from over 150 countries and 16 airports in India. The government earlier revealed that between January to April 2016, a total of 3,91,094 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 94,998 during the same period the previous year, registering a growth of 311.7%.
BSNL and Tourism Ministry tie up for WiFi
In October last year, state-owned telcos BSNL and MTNL had signed a deal with the Tourism Ministry to equip 100 tourist destinations across the country with high-speed public WiFi hotspots. Currently, the WiFi project is live in locations like the Tirumala temple, Bodh Gaya, Khajuraho, Varanasi ghats, Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal.