Government plans to lift ban on tourist satellite phones

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To strengthen the framework for tourism, the Government of India is finally considering lifting the ban on use of satellite phones, a much awaited demand of adventure travellers. Once into effect, the adventure tourists can use satellite phones for any emergency while trekking in the deep jungles of north-east or skiing in the slopes of Himalayas, where the usual phones’ networks have no connectivity.

India draws 200,000 foreign tourists for adventure tourism annually while domestic tourists account for much more.

“About 80% of our trips are in the wilderness where there is no connectivity. In such situations, we require sat phones when tourists suffer from ill health like high altitude sickness or accidents. Every minute counts but there have been times when we have had to wait for 24 hours before we could inform the Air Force to send us a chopper,” Akshay Kumar, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) president said.

“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 added.