Arrived in India and need to make a phone call? Fear not, the Government will give you a free one. Building on the success of its highly popular e-visa system, the Ministry of Tourism has just announced that it’ll provide incoming foreign tourists with a pre-loaded Sim Card so they can make call to friends, acquaintances and family as soon as they touch down.
We like this idea and applaud the Indian Government for being the first to do it. Of course most international travelers carry mobiles and smart phones and can make calls themselves, once their network providers have given them access.
But that’s not the point. This initiative is further proof of the Ministry’s determination to attract as many tourists as possible to visit their extraordinary country. Another example of their new welcoming stance is the 24 x 7 Tourist Helpline which they have also recently set up and whose staff – collectively – speak twelve foreign languages.
India’s e-visa system has recently celebrated its first year and has already proved to be a remarkable success, especially in the UK. Figures shared by India’s Tourism Office in London late last year showed that British travelers accounted for nearly a quarter of all e-visas issued worldwide and, within the first two months of its use by UK citizens, the UK was ranked first out of 113 countries using it. Nearly 900,000 e-visas have been issued so far.
Being in the insurance industry, we feel we ought to point out the T&Cs of the scheme. The free sim cards will only be available to passengers arriving into the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi, although there are plans to extend this to the remaining 15 international airports. And the cards will be only be pre-loaded with a value of Rs. 50 talk time and 50MB of data.
We suspect this may only be enough to say, “Hi Mum, I’ve landed”. But at least she knows you’re safe.