India plans to welcome foreign tourists with free mobile cards

Foreign visitors to India using electronic tourist visas will soon get free SIM cards on their arrival in the country, government officials said Monday.

The move is aimed at aimed at attracting more tourists and raising India's image as a global tourist destination.

It also aims to address security concerns, helping tourists access telecom services to make calls in times of distress, a tourism ministry official said.

"The scheme was recently approved by the home ministry. A few more final clearances are awaited, following which we hope to implement the scheme shortly."

Foreign tourists face problems in procuring SIM cards in India with service providers requiring paperwork and a list of documents, making them dependent on phone booths.

The SIM card, to be handed out along with a welcome kit that includes maps, will be valid for 30 days and have preloaded talk time and data but no international roaming facility.

India's e-tourist visa scheme, available for citizens of 150 countries has been described as a "game-changer" for tourism. Foreign tourist arrivals surged from 6.3 million in 2011 to 8.03 million last year.

The move comes as India's telecom industry is on the verge of a major price war. Reliance Industries has promised free calls and data services till December 31 on its Jio network and begins with rock-bottom tariff plans from January 1.

Last update: Mon, 05/09/2016 - 14:39
Author: 

More from World

NYC mayor: residents shouldn't have to pay for Trump's security

Residents of New York City shouldn't have to foot the bill for added security around the residence of president-...

Four die of the plague in Madagascar

Four people have died from the plague in Madagascar, the Health Ministry announced Wednesday.

Top NATO officer: 150 Turkish officers recalled, retired after coup

About 150 Turkish officers, some responsible for training others, were recalled or retired from NATO high command in...

Erdogan says era of trade in local currencies set to begin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed up his ambitions for the lira Wednesday, saying the era of local...

West demands a ceasefire in Aleppo as Russia seeks rebel surrender

Six Western powers demanded Wednesday an "immediate ceasefire" to bring aid into rebel-held Aleppo, warning "a...