A strong rebound in international travel demand in India is choking up Schengen visa application facilities across a number of European missions in New Delhi, forcing travellers to look for other more accessible holiday destinations.
TTG Asia learns from industry sources that appointments for Schengen visa applications are fully booked till August.
“We are still unable to avail appointments for European visas,” lamented Aditya Tyagi, founder, Luxe Escape.
“We have a family from Hyderabad that is looking to travel to France around September 20, but we don’t have available slots for visa appointments before September 10. So, this family is now considering either Australia or New Zealand,” he added.
Tyagi recalled a similar situation in July, when a client had to move his five-night birthday trip from Europe to Mauritius due to visa challenges.
“Our clients are now considering alternative destinations in South-east Asia, Australia and Africa,” he said.
Visa processes at some European missions are now taking four to 10 weeks, up from the previous three weeks.
Describing Indian travel sentiment as being “at an all-time high” today, Daniel D’Souza, president & country head – holidays, SOTC Travel, said visa challenges for Europe are pushing customers to destinations closer to home and which have an easy visa requirement.
Key travel trade associations, including the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), have recently met with senior officials from India’s Ministry of External Affairs to highlight the predicament.
“Some missions keep the passports for an indefinite period, resulting in uncertainty and cancellations which incur a huge cost for the traveller given that confirmed air tickets and hotel vouchers are a requirement for visa applications,” said Jyoti Mayal, president, TAAI.
Compared to visa issues, chaos at some European airports have had a lesser impact on Indian travellers’ plans, noted agents.