The Union government’s move to suspend visas for citizens of Canada – a huge source market for India – may affect peak tourism season, with in-bound travel operators bracing for large-scale cancellations and fearing a spillover effect on overall sentiment.
Statistics provided by the Ministry of Tourism show that December is the peak tourist season, while summer is lean. According to 2021 data by the ministry, over 24 per cent of total Canadian tourists who visited India came in December, while less than one per cent travelled here in May.
Rajiv Mehra, president of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), said Canada is a huge source market for India. “We have tourists, people of Indian origin travelling to India to meet their friends and relatives and this was expected to be a normal year after 2019-20. So it has a huge impact.” In the wake of Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks linking India to the murder, diplomatic relations between Canada and India have taken a hit. India also suspended visa services for Canadians last month.
IATO predicts this will lead to a fall of 30-40 per cent from what they were expecting in this financial year. “Those who were planning to travel from December onwards will likely be impacted,” says Mehra, adding that all segments in the hospitality sector — be it hotels, event planners, marriage planners (Canadian citizens of origin often solemnise marriages here in India where they spend lavishly), luxury car rental companies will likely take a hit.
Ajay Prakash, Board Member of FAITH said, “The standoff with Canada has come just when the inbound season is starting. No authenticated figures are available at this point but if it continues, it will affect all segments. We hope the sentiment in other important markets will not be affected as that could have a disastrous cascading effect,” he said.
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