INDIAN tour operators welcomed the government's move to scrap a mandatory two-month gap in between visits to India for foreign nationals. This took effect on November 21.
“The 60-day restriction clause for re-entry was dampening tourists’ interest. We expect an increase of 15 per cent in tourist arrivals after the new regime – 10 to 12 per cent of this growth will come from the leisure segment and three to five per cent from the business segment. The results will be seen in all our markets, especially Europe and the US,” said Subhash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators.
Subhash Verma, president, Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India, said: “All the Indian associations had joined hands to lobby for the lifting of the two-month gap restriction, and even met the prime minister’s office to push our case.
“I see (the market from) South-east Asia gaining the most, as many travellers on business tours from these countries want to come soon after with their families on leisure trips, but the two-month gap has acted as a handicap.
He added that because these restrictions were also applicable to tour group escorts, they could only handle one group in two months.
“We can now see more overseas tour operators pushing for more groups in India,” said Verma.
Nevertheless, some tour operators expressed unhappiness over the fact that the restrictions still remained for nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Bangladesh, foreigners of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin and stateless persons.
“Why should we discriminate against a few countries? For example, there is a growing interest among the Chinese to travel to India. But now (growth in) this market will probably slow down,” said Arun Anand, managing director, Midtown Travels.