New federal data released on Friday reveals a remarkable increase of more than 100% in travel from India to Canada this summer compared to the previous year. As countries worldwide continue to relax COVID-19-related travel restrictions, the surge in Indian travelers is raising questions about the potential impact on travel plans due to the recent closure of visa centers by India in Canada following a diplomatic dispute.
According to Statistics Canada, there were a total of 28,000 trips from India to Canada in July last year. This July, that number skyrocketed to 61,000 trips, marking a significant 115.9% increase from the previous year. However, there was a slight drop from June’s numbers, which recorded 64,000 trips.
The surge in travel from India to Canada not only reflects the easing of travel restrictions but also highlights the growing tensions between the two nations following the killing of a prominent Sikh leader in British Columbia in June this year.
In a surprising turn of events, India suspended visa services in Canada, leaving many like Toronto resident Rohit uncertain about their travel plans. Rohit, concerned about the impact of sharing his worries on his travel application, expressed his disappointment, saying, “This came out of the blue. It totally took me by surprise.”
The visa services suspension by India affects various types of visas processed by the agency BLS Indian Visa Application Center, including visitor visas and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards. Visitor visas serve as the essential requirement for individuals without an Indian passport to enter the country. OCI cards, on the other hand, provide visa-free travel and multiple entries to individuals of Indian origin living abroad.
The escalating diplomatic tensions between India and Canada have evoked discomfort among the Indian diaspora in Canada. With many Canadian citizens having close family members residing in India, the visa suspension is expected to have a significant impact on their lives, affecting ordinary people.
Despite the diplomatic row, international trips to Canada have witnessed an overall increase, rising from 6.1 million in July 2022 to 8.4 million in 2023. The United States remains the largest source of international visitors, with 3.1 million U.S. residents entering Canada in July, and 3.7 million Canadian residents returning from the U.S.
China has shown the most significant year-over-year growth percentage-wise, with a remarkable 243.5% rise in visitors from 8,000 in July 2022 to 28,000 in 2023.
– Statistics Canada – Travel from India to Canada: https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/subjects-start/travel_activity/travellers_to_canada/monthly#a2
– BLS Indian Visa Application Center: https://blsindia-canada.com/home.php#