Indian government has decided to provide free, pre-activated SIM cards to tourists on arrival in the country.

The cards will be loaded with 50MB of data, also additional credit for phone calls; also they’re available to tourists from around 160 countries that come to India on an e-visa. Initially, they will be available at the New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Airport, before being rolled out to 15 other major airports around the country.

According to the government, the move will also promote hassle-free travel, and will provide guaranteed safety to the tourists.  According to the India’s tourism minister, Dr Mahesh Sharma, he got the idea when he was given a similar card while visiting Sri Lanka. “The initiative will help the tourists to immediately communicate with their relatives at home, hotels, tour operators and so on. I got this idea when I had got a similar card when I had visited Sri Lanka”, minister said. The minister further said the facility will provide ease to the tourists who have to spend about two hours to get their SIM cards activated after they land in India.

Until now, it’s been notoriously difficult for tourists to get an Indian phone number. The bureaucratic process requires them to provide a range of documents to prove their identity, as well as a photocopy of their passport with a valid visa stamp, proof of address, and the contact details of a local reference. Even then, it often takes days for the number to be activated.

As per the new facility, the tourists will now have to show their passport and a copy of their e-visa to get their hands on one of the new SIM cards. The initiative will also help foreigners access a 24-hour government helpline with information available in 12 different languages including Russian, German and Japanese.

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