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Visa troubles cause worry in travel, tourism industry

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THE decision of the British High Commission to temporary suspend issue of visas from Delhi has come as a shock to the domestic travel and tourism industry.

"The domestic tourism industry will be affected. However, they will not be the only ones to feel the pinch. Indians are big spenders. And the fact that many of them will not be going to the UK means that the British economy and jobs will also suffer,'' the Chairman, STIC, Mr Subash Goyal, said.

On the issue of how many Indians were likely to get affected by the latest decision of the British High Commission, Mr Goyal was of the opinion that only a small percentage of the about 200,000 Indians who travel to the UK would be first time-travellers. "However, business travel is unlikely to suffer as business has to go on irrespective of what the situation is. Besides, most of the business travellers have been to the UK before,'' he said.

However, Mr Goyal as also the Chairman, Thomas Cook, Mr Pradip Madhavji, hoped that the decision of the Delhi based British High Commission would be a temporary one.

"The decision of the British High Commission is obviously very unfortunate. Not only have they advised their citizens not to come to India but also resolved not to allow first-time visitors from India. As this is the peak season in India, it is very unfortunate,'' Mr Madhavji said. He, however, hoped that this period would also pass off as had others.

Echoing similar sentiments, the General Manager, International Travel House, Mr Sudhir Sahi, also hoped that the situation will return to normal soon especially as the there had been a steady improvement in the news flowing in from different parts of the world on the impact of efforts to defuse the tension on the international border.

"With the an improvement in the flow of news about the situation on the international border, we hope and expect that things will come back to normal very soon,'' Mr Sahi said.

Bug bites... will travel

WITH the travel bug biting the Indian travellers, nothing can keep them on the Indian shores, not even the temporary decision of the British High Commission in Delhi not to process and issue visa to first-time travellers.

"When an Indian wants to travel nothing can keep them from going abroad. The loss of the UK as a preferred place of travel will translate into gains for Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and some other European destinations where Indian travellers can get entry easily,'' the Chairman of STIC Travel, Mr Subash Goyal, said.

And with the marriage season on, the sunny beaches of Mauritius will again be in the reckoning as the favourite destination for honeymooners, travel industry officials say. The Chairman of Thomas Cook, Mr Pradip Madhavji, disagreed slightly with this viewpoint. "The decision to travel to the Far East or any other destination rather than to Europe may be taken by a small number of Indian travellers. However, a majority would still like to go to Europe, especially as many have already been to the Far East,'' Mr Madhavji said.

However, what may put a spoke in the wheel of Indians travelling to their favourite holiday destinations may be the lack of enough airline seats, officials said.

"There is a huge shortfall in airline seats running into a few million. This will affect the travel plan of an average Indian more than the decision of the British High Commission,'' Mr Goyal said.

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Visa troubles cause worry in travel, tourism industry

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