After a two-month suspension, India has recommenced issuing e-visas for Canadian tourists and business travellers, signaling a potential alleviation of tensions between the two nations. The decision follows a period of strained relations sparked by Ottawa’s allegations of potential Indian government involvement in the murder of a Canadian Sikh separatist leader.
According to media reports., an anonymous Indian government official has confirmed the resumption of e-visa services for Canadian nationals, emphasising that this move is expected to ease tensions, though a significant improvement in bilateral relations is not anticipated in the immediate future.
The decision to resume e-visas is specific to tourism and business purposes for Canadian nationals. It is noteworthy that India had previously restored visas under four of the 13 categories that were suspended in September, showcasing a gradual normalisation of visa services between the two countries.
While the recent move is a step toward diplomatic reconciliation, observers note that more substantial improvements in India-Canada relations may require additional efforts and diplomatic initiatives. The resumption of e-visa services underscores the importance of facilitating travel and business exchanges between the two nations.
This development will be closely monitored to assess its impact on the broader diplomatic landscape and whether it contributes to a sustained improvement in bilateral ties.
Commenting on the development, the Indian tourism industry has welcomed the move saying it is a sigh of relief during the current inbound tourist season. Sharing his views on resumption of e-tourist visas from Canada, Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) said, ” We are happy and pleased with this piece of information as opening of visas from Canada which is one of the largest source market, would be a big booster shot for inbound tourism here in India. by January, the tourist flow from Canada would begin.”
At the same time, Mehra also urged the Indian government to allow e-visas for Chinese visitors. “Other visas are open for the Chinese travellers, but the absence of e-visa is still an impediment for Chinese nationals. Hopefully the government would consider this as well,” he added.
Ajay Prakash, Board Member, FAITH, and President, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) said, “It is an excellent move and we welcome it whole heartedly. We are both robust democracies and we should be able to resolve our differences though dialogue rather than putting barriers for people to people movement. Tourism is a people’s business, and we would urge the govt to play an important role of facilitator in this sector.”