INDIA TO LIFT BAN ON SATELLITE PHONES FOR TOURISTS | Uganda safari


 

Sikkim strickens on Satellite Phone use by visitors, tourists
In a move that could finally put India on the map as a destination for adventure enthusiasts, the government is likely to lift the ban on use of satellite phones for tourism purposes. This means that tourists trekking in the wilderness in the north-east or skiing in the upper reaches of Himalayas where there is no connectivity can use satellite phones for any emergency.
The issue was discussed in a meeting between ministries of tourism and home affairs recently. At present Thuraya satellite phone service is not allowed in the country for security concerns. The ban was put in place since intelligence agencies find it difficult to keep track of these phones. “The home ministry has agreed in principle to lift the ban,” a source said.
According to estimates, India draws 200,000 foreign tourists for adventure tourism annually with domestic tourists accounting for much more.
This has been a long-standing demand from adventure tour operators after deaths in accidents and life-threatening situations because of the lack of communication.
Kumar, who is CEO of Mercury Himalayan Explorations Ltd, added that the industry suffered from deaths that could easily be avoided. “Keeping these issues in view we had suggested that a government department be authorized to buy sat phones and these be rented out to only registered tour operators to ensure that it was used for tourism purposes only,” he said.
For several years now international luxury tour operators have given adventure tourism in India a go-by because of the lack of communication facilities.

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