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European tourism chief comments on visas for Indians

European tourism chief comments on visas for Indians

“How can we boost visitor numbers from India? – Join Schengen!”

In response to today’s news that the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May will not give ground on India’s desire for easier visa access to the UK for workers and students, Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA, the European tourism association says:


“If Theresa May wants to increase exports to India, the easiest and swiftest way to do it is to welcome visitors from India who will arrive in the UK and spend their foreign currency in hotels, restaurants, taxis, shops and other attractions. That will instantly create jobs. Visas are the major obstacle to inbound tourism from India. This can be seen from a comparison of the UK’s tourism performance with other European countries that require a Schengen visa.

The UK visa is twelve pages long gives access to two countries and costs £87. It requires everyone to list all international journeys over the last ten years, stating duration and purpose. It asks such questions as: “Have you ever, by any means or medium, expressed views that justify or glorify terrorist violence or that may encourage others to terrorist acts or other serious criminal acts? Have you engaged in any other activities that might indicate that you may not be considered a person of good character?”

What is clear is that being in Schengen enables a country to draw on the attraction of its neighbours. Benchmarked from 2006, the UK has shown single digit growth in visitors from India, the Schengen area has seen growth of around 100%.

“Before the advent of the Schengen agreement, any Indian planning to go on a pan-European vacation was confronted with formidable bureaucratic obstacles,” said Karan Anand, Chairman of the Outbound Committee of the Indian Association of Tour Operators. “As it took up to six weeks to apply for a visa, it was not impossible for customers to have to go through six months of applications in order to arrange a visit. Schengen has thus been an enormous improvement. We now can sell tours featuring the places that our clients want to visit in a way which was previously impossible. Even today the challenge before us is to manage demand as the number of Indians visiting the Schengen area is growing by at least 25 per cent year on year.”

“This is perfect example of comparative bureaucracy, “ said Tom Jenkins.  “At the moment it is, obviously, politically impossible for the UK to enter the Schengen zone. But there is nothing stopping them emulating European levels of efficiency.

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