Distrust of visitors from emerging economies lies behind tough visa restrictions and long border-control queues at airports in Europe, says the boss of leading Indian travel group Cox & Kings.

The problem has grown so bad, said Cox & Kings chief executive Peter Kerkar, that: “We don’t count the passengers we send overseas now, we count those rejected.”

Kerkar told the World Travel Market Ministers’ Summit on Tuesday: “There is no consistency. We have cases where fathers and children of families are allowed in and their mothers not admitted. The humiliation is incredible.”

He said: “People have to stop seeing travellers from Bric countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China] as if they are trying to immigrate.”

Kerkar drew applause when he added: “We just want to visit your countries, not move there.”

Cox & Kings recently completed the £312 million takeover of UK domestic and short-break specialist Holidaybreak, a brand the company is expected to market in India.

Kerkar said: “We have 100 million people in India who want to travel abroad, and Indians spend more when they travel than anyone in the world. Why stop them travelling?”

He spoke amid a growing crisis over the partial relaxation of checks on non-European Union entrants to Britain by the UK Border Agency.

The relaxation formed part of an effort to cut lengthening queues at airports in the run up to next year’s London Olympics, amid cuts in Border Agency staff.

But the agency has been accused of compromising security and home secretary Theresa May faces pressure to resign after first claiming she was unaware of the change in policy.

Norway trade and industry minister Trond Giske backed Kerkar’s comments. He told the summit: “When politicians talk about multiculturalism as a problem, it becomes a problem for tourism. Xenophobia is one of the most important issues for the industry. It’s most damaging.”

Jamaica tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said: “Visa protocols need to be revised.” And Tui Travel chief executive Peter Long told the assembled ministers: “The issue of visas is crucial.”