November 23, 2023 – India has reportedly recommenced the issuance of e-visas for Canadian tourists and business travelers, marking a significant diplomatic development after a two-month suspension. The decision comes in the wake of heightened tensions triggered by Ottawa’s allegations of potential Indian Government involvement in the murder of a Canadian Sikh separatist leader.
An anonymous official from the Indian Government acknowledged that the resumption of e-visa services is a step toward easing tensions between the two nations. However, the official cautioned against expecting an immediate and substantial improvement in bilateral relations. This move, focused on tourism and business purposes, aligns with India’s phased normalization of visa services, which previously saw the restoration of visas under four of the 13 suspended categories in September.
While the resumption of e-visas is viewed as a positive diplomatic gesture, experts suggest that deeper improvements in India-Canada relations may require additional efforts and diplomatic initiatives. The significance of facilitating travel and business exchanges between the two countries is emphasized, and its broader impact on diplomatic dynamics will be closely monitored.
The Indian tourism industry has welcomed the development, expressing relief during the current inbound tourist season. Rajiv Mehra, President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), highlighted the positive impact on inbound tourism from Canada, one of the largest source markets. He also urged the Indian Government to extend e-visas to Chinese visitors, emphasizing it as an important consideration.
Ajay Prakash, Board Member of the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) and President of the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), lauded the move, underscoring the importance of resolving differences through dialogue and facilitating people-to-people movement.
Jyoti Mayal, President of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), described the decision as a positive step toward promoting tourism and strengthening bilateral ties, emphasizing the need to open e-tourist visas for all countries to enhance ease of travel.
The resumption of e-visas for Canadian nationals signifies a diplomatic effort to normalize relations, with stakeholders in the tourism industry expressing optimism about its positive impact on inbound tourism and urging further global inclusivity in visa programs.