The Indian government’s recent decision to suspend visas for Canadian citizens, who constitute a significant tourism source market for India, has raised concerns about its potential impact on the upcoming peak tourism season. In-bound travel operators are bracing for the possibility of widespread cancellations and are apprehensive about its broader implications for overall sentiment.
According to data provided by the Ministry of Tourism, December stands as the peak tourist season in India, while the summer months witness fewer visitors. In line with data from 2021, over 24 percent of all Canadian tourists who visited India opted for December as their travel period, in contrast to less than one percent who traveled in May.
Rajiv Mehra, the President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), underscored the significance of Canada as a key source market for India. He stated, “Canada is vital for us, as we receive tourists and people of Indian origin who visit India to reconnect with friends and relatives. This year was expected to return to normalcy after 2019-20, so the impact is substantial.” Tensions in diplomatic relations between Canada and India have escalated following the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks linking India to the murder. India also suspended visa services for Canadians last month.
IATO anticipates a 30-40 percent decline from their initial projections for this fiscal year. Mehra noted that those who had planned to travel from December onwards are likely to be affected. The repercussions are expected to reverberate across various segments of the hospitality industry, encompassing hotels, event planners, marriage planners (given that Canadian citizens of Indian origin often hold weddings in India and make substantial expenditures), and luxury car rental companies.
Ajay Prakash, a Board Member of FAITH, commented, “The standoff with Canada has emerged just as the inbound tourism season is commencing. While exact figures are currently unavailable, if this situation persists, it will impact all sectors. We hope that sentiment in other critical markets remains unaffected, as any negative sentiment there could trigger a cascading and disastrous effect.”