Tour operator slams India visa facilitator and writes to PM over low foreign arrivals

The Indian Association of Tour Operators has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office asking for help in reinstating e-tourism visas for the UK, Canada and other major source countries. With the rebound in the hotel sector, inbound travel is still suffering, the body said and some of its reasons include high airfares, travel restrictions and difficulty obtaining visas to come to India.

The body said it has made extensive representations and sent letters to the Department of Tourism, Home and External Affairs asking them to reinstate e-visas for the UK, Canada and other source markets for the UK. India. “Having elicited no response from these ministries, we have written to the prime minister, hoping for a speedy resolution,” said its chairman Rajiv Mehra.

According to Mehra, the IATO has received a number of inquiries from its members and overseas counterparts expressing concern over the delay that planned tourists to the UK are facing in obtaining a normal visa for India, as there is no There is no electronic tourist visa service available at this time. “Appointments are not available for prospective foreign tourists at VFS Global offices in the UK and it takes between six and eight weeks in the UK to obtain a normal Indian visa. Even for this, appointments by VFS Global offices are not given and handling of normal India paper visa is done by Embassy in UK and VFS Global is very discouraging and harassing for tourists who are planning to come to India as it takes two to three months to get a normal tourist visa,” Mehra said.

He added that the body had received reports that if the situation did not improve, foreign tour operators were likely to stop selling India tour packages. Due to the non-availability of e-tourism visas for the UK, Canada and other source markets, the country is losing business as tourists from these countries opt for alternative destinations.

“If this situation continues, it will be a big loss for the inbound tourism industry and the entire season could be lost, resulting in further loss of foreign exchange earnings and loss of employment, as one foreign tourist coming to India creates nine jobs directly or indirectly.We are trying to recreate jobs for trained tourism professionals who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 but under the circumstances where there are a lot of problems in getting an Indian visa, it is difficult to ‘achieve our goal of recreating jobs in the tourism sector and contributing to economic development through inbound tourism,’ Mehra said.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, in its report, India Tourism Statistics 2022, in the year 2021, foreign tourist arrivals in India recorded a negative growth of 44.5% compared to 2020.

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