TravTalk - India

Visa Troubles


A few months back, I would not have imagined writing this editorial, but a lot can change in a matter of weeks and COVID-19 has shown us so. Let us discuss a problem that the travel fraternity is facing, the problem of visas! Travel demand is multiplyin­g daily, but are the visas holding us back? In my last few chats with industry colleagues, they all seem to be asking about the visa processing time. Name the country and the list of visa questions are endless, from change in process to vaccinatio­n status and most importantl­y the processing time. Luckily, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases globally has not deterred the demand for travel, but we have to wait and watch.

So, what does it take to ramp up visa facilitati­on? Why are not the embassies doing so? I believe, group travel and MICE travel is being largely impacted because the slow visa process. I wonder what our travel associatio­ns are doing about this. Have not seen anyone making noise yet.

Over the last two years, many foreign destinatio­ns have invested in the Indian traveller and now it is time for them to reap the benefits of revenge travel. Will MICE be the driving force behind the popularity of the Indian outbound traveller?

While I really want to see this sector explode across the globe, let us hope that the airlines and embassies are also prepared for this demand. Yes, the rising cost of air tickets is another factor hampering the growth. While we all hoped to see a slow but steady slide in air ticket prices, but unfortunat­ely that has not been the case till now. Going back to a critical issue, I want to circle back to conversati­ons on e-visas and visa on arrivals. Different government­s really need to start easing the travel process. Tourism was majorly impacted by the pandemic, and now that we are on the way to recovery, we should not let visa processing time be the reason to delay its comeback. The industry, across the globe, is waiting to welcome Indian travellers. Till visa processing does not happen under three days, let us hope that the authoritie­s decide to issue longer term multiple entry visas as a helping hand to rebuild tourism.

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