Visa delays sour summer holiday plans of Indians

Abhishek Law | | Updated on: May 27, 2022

Average visa processing time for UK is now 9-10 weeks

Planning a getaway to picturesque Switzerland or London this summer? You could be in for a big disappointment.

Visa processing time for some European nations and the United Kingdom are up anywhere between four and 10 weeks, leading to push back of holiday dates, cancellations or shift to South East Asian or West Asian locales.

A flood of applications coupled with slower processing speed at the Consulates – which are still under-prepared to handle the beyond normal increase - have led to backlogs, say tour operators.

For instance, the previous processing time for UK visa was around 6- 8 weeks and is now up 9-10 weeks; European visa (Schengen) dates are up by “at least 15 – 35 days” and in case of Greece and Spain, the waiting time is as high as 6-8 weeks.

The situation is worse in the case of the US, where no new tourist visas are being issued. Those holding valid US visas are the only ones opting for tours.

“The visa challenge is two pronged, obtaining appointment slots coupled with extended processing time, of 15-35 days for Europe (Schengen) and 9-10 weeks for the UK. Our US tours are in demand from customers who are already holding valid visas and we expect to see appointments opening up towards the third quarter this year,” Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, VISA, Thomas Cook India said.

According to Vishal Suri, MD, SOTC, there has been a significant surge in demand for Western Europe (Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy), “but constraints on the visa front, resulted in a push back of some departure dates for booked customers.”

“In some cases we are planning trips or tour after three months to avoid delayed departures or cancellations,” he added.

Alternate locations

Given the difficulty in visas to Europe, there’s a considerable shift to Turkey and Egypt and South East Asian destinations like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. New vacation hotspots for Indians now include Vietnam and Cambodia.

Some of the tour operators have also launched ‘easy visa holidays’ for visa-on-arrival locations that include the likes of Maldives, Mauritius, Bali, Jordan, Cambodia, Seychelles.

Customer trends indicate both increased appetite for holiday spends (20-35 per cent up vs pre- pandemic levels) and longer duration of stays – around 7 - 10 days for domestic and short haul (international) holidays and 12 – 18 days for international long haul vacation tours.

Published on May 27, 2022
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