Delays in visa processing by the US and Schengen states have hit the travel industry hard, and to tackle this unusual crisis and avoid future losses tourism sector is seeking government intervention. Also, the delay in the visa process is causing a lot of distress among the Indian globetrotters, who are planning a trip out of the country after spending two years of the COVID-19 pandemic hunkering down at home.
Tens and thousands of Indian passengers are in dire straits these days since tickets and hotel verifications have to be submitted with visa applications for many countries. And when the passport is not accepted on time, people are ending up paying massive revocation charges.
The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), an umbrella organisation representing over 2,500 travel firms, has red-flagged these issues with the ministry of external affairs (MEA).
"Issuance of visas to the US, and many Schengen countries, especially Greece, is a major hurdle these days.... unable to secure an appointment for visas for travellers and then the long delays in the stamping of visas without any proper communication," TAAI said in a statement.
"In addition, some missions keep passports for an indefinite period resulting in uncertainty and cancellations which incur a huge cost to the traveller given that confirmed air tickets and hotel vouchers are a requirement for visa applications, which must be done away with," it said, adding TAAI has requested a "government-to-government dialogue to resolve/address the issues."
"We are seeking MEA's assistance by way of addressing the challenges faced by the travel trade fraternity of India to make it more robust. The pandemic has seen a struggle for survival and there is a huge opportunity to quickly revive as people want to restart travel,"
TAAI has also asked the government for an "extension of the free visas to India and the duration to be or minimum six months with multiple entries... E-visa must be reinstated for all countries, including the UK and Canada to boost inbound tourism," it said.