New Delhi, July 9: Foreign tourists will now no longer get free SIM cards on arriving in India as the scheme to provide to help meet their communication needs has been 'discontinued' by the government. According to the latest development, tourism secretary Rashmi Verma on Monday said that it was felt 'unnecessary' and hence the scheme was discontinued.
The scheme which was launched in February last year by the then tourism minister Mahesh Sharma, provided foreign tourists availing e-visas with pre-activated free SIM cards on arrival in India. The facility was started to help foreign tourists remain connected for the time period their own SIM cards were activated after landing in India. “It has been discontinued as it was felt not necessary to do so,” Verma said. She said foreign tourists use social media apps and Wi-Fi facility is also available in most places including at the airports.
According to a PTI report, the BSNL SIM cards came with talk time of Rs 50 and 50 MB data. The SIM card with 30 days’ validity, also helped the travellers to contact the 24-hour tourist helpline number available in 12 languages, including Russian, German and Japanese.
The tourism secretary informed that the helpline for foreign tourists is going to be expanded with the addition of some other languages. It must be noted that India for the first time crossed 10 million mark in foreign tourist arrivals in 2017. According to a PTI report, combined with the NRI visitors, the international tourist arrivals stood at around 16.5 million. The tourism ministry has aimed to double the foreign tourist arrivals and revenue for it in the next three years.
In a bid to boost tourism in the country, the tourism secretary also said that under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the ministry, 15 tourist circuits were identified for which 68 projects were approved. Thirty of these projects are likely to be completed by end of this year, she added.