Indians looking to go on European tours are opting for alternative destinations due to a high processing time for the Schengen visa. The visa allows travel in 26 Schengen countries, as well as over 40 non-Schengen countries.
Inordinate delays in its processing are hampering travel plans. After over two years of the COVID pandemic, Indians are venturing out again, so the Schengen visa delay is a dampener.
Most people are planning trips in large groups or families and were looking to spend the summer holidays which fall in June-July. But long visa processing times have pushed them to look for alternative destinations such as Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, since nations such as the US and Canada also have long visa queues.
Some are even looking at options like Egypt, Turkey, Maldives, Mauritius, Vietnam, etc while others are open to countries like Jordan, Seychelles, and Azerbaijan, said a Mint article. It quoted a luxury outbound travel agency as saying it is increasingly becoming difficult to get Schengen visa.
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The Schengen area covers 26 countries (Schengen States) without border controls between them: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Agencies are now curating trips to places like Egypt and Greece, said Mint.
A 10-day trip to some of the countries in the Middle East can cost only around ₹2-3 lakh per person and the visa is usually processed in 2-3 weeks, as compared to inordinate delays in other visas.
Spain too has a shorter visa processing time of about two weeks. Travel agencies are recommending customers to the western European country as well.
The Greece embassy in New Delhi said it had resolved a temporary problem that had occurred regarding the processing of Schengen visa applications in its consular office and invited tourists planning a holiday to Greece to apply soon, said Mint.
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Agencies are also looking at countries which doesn’t require visas for Indians or offer e-visas or visas on arrival.
“We are witnessing a considerable demand shift to Southeast Asia. Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have seen an uptick of 25-30% in the last couple of months; Vietnam and Cambodia are doing well too. Turkey, Egypt, the Maldives and Mauritius have increased by 20-25% due to proximity and easy access,” said Rajeev Kale, president of Thomas Cook, as quoted by Mint.
International tourism by Indians is seeing an upward trend after almost a muted approach in the two years of the pandemic, and thanks to the pleasant weather and control in pandemic, people are all the more happy to take the trip.
Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer of MakeMyTrip, feels that the international tourism would continue to grow despite the start of school after the summer break.

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