UAE residents wishing to travel to Schengen countries will have to wait till September for visa appointments due to a massive rush as the travel sector recovers rapidly after the pandemic.
Travel industry executives say that UAE travellers can fly to Schengen countries only after mid-September as there are no visa slots available to these 26 countries.
“It is a long wait to fetch an appointment and some countries are not even opening up to get a visa. I plan to travel to Budapest around mid-September, but I have no clue when I am going to get the visa. Probably, there is a possibility of getting via other Schengen states, but then there will be an additional cost because I need to hop down to a country which is issuing visa for the first trip and then move around Schengen countries,” says Satyanarayan Karan, a long-time Dubai resident and businessman.
Karan says he’ll try again this week for the visa, and if not possible, he’ll pick up whatever options are available.
“For Schengen visa appointment, you can book now only in September and, thereafter, there’s a processing time of 15 to 18 days,” says Mustaq Vakani of Akbar Travels.
Thousands of UAE residents travel to cooler climes, especially the European countries, during the summer vacations, increasing the demand for visas and airfares during the season.
Avinash Adnani, managing director of Pluto Travels, said travel to Schengen countries is a major hassle due to the non-availability of visa slots.
“They (embassies and consulates) don’t have capacity. We are getting appointments for September for Schengen visas. There could be one or two Schengen countries that might have a date in August, but mostly it’s only in September. Therefore, people can’t travel before mid-September due to delays in visa appointments,” said Adnani.
He added that visa processing becomes faster for those who have travelled to the EU before, but for those going for the first time, it can take more time. “Those who have travelled to the EU earlier will have their visas processed in five to 10 days. But for the first timer, it is taking around 15 days.”
He pointed out that unlike before, Schengen countries now insist on travelling to countries where people have taken the appointment for the visa or if they’re staying more in that country. “For this reasons, people are forced to reschedule their itinerary,” he added.
Mir Wasim Raja, manager, MICE and holidays, Galadari International Travel Services, echoed his industry peers’ views, saying people are not getting visa appointments before September. “It is because the countries have fixed number of visas that they can issue and demand is more than available slots,” he added.
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