Strained India-Canada relations threaten India’s inbound health

Escalating diplomatic tensions between India and Canada have raised serious concerns among India’s inbound tourism stakeholders, especially since October marks the beginning of the industry’s peak season.

Historically, Canada has been a vital source market for inbound tourism in India. While domestic tourism is gradually recovering, international tourism revival in India has been sluggish. A segment of tour operators fear that the strained relationship between both countries will severely impact this year’s inbound tourism prospects.

The conflict between India and Canada may affect India’s inbound tourism this year

“Canada holds immense significance in our inbound tourism market. We have confirmed groups scheduled to travel in November, (but) the current strain in India-Canada relations is likely to lead to cancellations. However, we remain hopeful for a swift resolution to this issue,” said Debjit Dutta, director and CEO of Impression Tourism Services.

The deterioration in diplomatic ties began when Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau accused Indian government agents of involvement in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a fervent supporter of a separatist movement advocating for the creation of ‘Khalistan’ in India. Subsequently, both nations expelled respective diplomats, and India suspended the issuance of visas to Canadians.

“At present, what we are seeing is a combination of cancellations plus Canadians postponing their travel plans by another two to three months. We are hoping that visa suspension for Canadians will be rolled back by that time because the inbound season ends in March. Also, the situation is grim for cancellations as we won’t get refunds from any suppliers in such a scenario,” said Homa Mistry, CEO, Trail Blazer Tours India.

Speaking anonymously, a hotelier mentioned that inbound tourism has been already slow to recover, partly due to limited marketing efforts internationally, and the current strained relations make it increasingly unlikely for Canadians to travel to India during the ongoing inbound season.

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