Indian government is going to allow the use of satellite phones for adventurers, which is most likely to boost tourism in destinations where there is no phone connectivity. Now tourists can contact their near & dear ones in case of emergency while trekking in the remote areas of Ladakh, hiking in Sikkim, exploring the wilderness of Himalayas or doing other such activities in any of the remote areas of India.
This decision is an outcome of the meeting held between home affairs and tourism ministries. Thuraya satellite phones were banned few years ago as it was becoming difficult for intelligence agencies to keep a track of these phones. But now, the home ministry has given its nod to remove the ban on the use of these phones.
Approximately, 200,000 foreign tourists come to India for indulging in adventure and the number of domestic tourists is even higher.
For some years, adventure tour operators were requesting the authorities to lift the ban after tourists witnessed many lethal accidents and life-threatening situations. The president of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), Akshay Kumar, said “8 out of 10 trips are in the no-connectivity areas like jungles and hills. And it becomes very difficult to contact the outside world for help when tourists suffer from bad health. In these situations, every second is crucial and sometimes we have to wait for 24 hours before someone could actually inform the Air Force about the requirement of a chopper.”
Akshay, who is also the CEO of Mercury Himalayan Explorations Ltd, further said some deaths could have easily been avoided. Such issues compelled us to request to authorize a government department for procuring satellite phones, which could be rented out to registered tour operators only.
Due to poor communication facilities, maximum percentage of international luxury tour operators has been giving India a miss for several years. “The reason is simple; large tour & travel companies want the safety of their clients that can’t be completely assured due to lack of communication facilities. It not only affected our business, but also proved out to be a disincentive for insurance companies who said ‘No’ to the insurance of tourists.” Kumar added.
With this decision of Indian government, hiking, skiing, camping and trekking in Indian Himalayas region is going to be safer and convenient for domestic as well as international tourists.