Tourists wanting to visit India have to provide much more documentation in order to be granted visas under new rules that came into effect on February 1.
Danish citizens now have to present an invitation, paid plane tickets and hotel reservations as well as a letter from their bank proving that they have the financial means to cover the costs of living in India.
Denmark seems to have been singled out for the special treatment as Swedes and Norwegians are not demanded to provide such comprehensive documentation.
Stig Elling, the sales director at the travel agency Star Tours, called India's new rules self-defeating.
“It has become far more time consuming as much greater demands are being made for information that in our opinion isn't relevant,” Elling told Politiken newspaper. “It’s not smart if you want to attract tourists to your country.”
Elling added that the new rules are proving such a headache for the company that they are now considering whether or not to keep sending tourists to the world’s second most populous country.
“It can only be described as harassment of Danish tourists," he said. "If they continue we will have to consider whether the country is tourist-friendly enough.”
Ravinder Kaur-Pedersen, chairman of the Danish-Indian association Dansk Indisk Forening, said she knew the new rules were irritating because they are the same rules that Denmark demands of Indian travellers wishing to come north.
“Indians wanting to travel to Denmark have to satisfy a lot of requirements and I understand the desire to protect your country,” Kaur-Pedersen said, adding that her sister was rejected for a visa to Denmark despite fulfilling all the requirements.
“I thought the demand for documentation was comprehensive but there is still no guarantee that a visa will be issued and I have a hard time accepting that,” she said.
Business people have had difficulty obtaining rush visas following the 2011 decision by the Eastern High Court to not deliver Niels Holck to India for trial to face charges for smuggling weapons to an Indian separatist group in 1995.
The Indian Embassy has confirmed that the Holck case had an impact on how fast business people can get visas.
“It now takes longer for business people to get visas. It has something to do with the terrorist Kim Davy,” the Indian consul to Denmark, Shri Rakech Kumar told Jyllands-Posten, using Holck's alias.
The Indian Embassy said that the new tourist rules are unrelated to Holck and that India is simply enforcing rules that already existed.
According to association of travel agents, Dansk Rejsebureauforening, 35,000 Danes travelled to India last year, 10,000 of whom were business people.