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Friday, May 17, 2024
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Switzerland halts Indian tour group visa applications

 Swiss embassy in New Delhi, India, made an announcement requesting tour operators to temporarily stop accepting Schengen visa applications from Indian tour groups. The reason behind this decision is the sheer volume of visa requests that the embassy has been inundated with, making it challenging for officials to process them in a timely manner.

As a result of the overwhelming demand, the embassy has decided to suspend the acceptance of group travel visa applications until at least September. During this period, Swiss tour operators in India have been advised to plan group travels for a later date. The objective is to ensure that visa applications can be submitted and processed with sufficient time for visas to be issued before the scheduled travel dates.

This move comes at a time when tour operators usually witness a surge in visa application requests from travelers hoping to visit cooler destinations in Switzerland during the summer months. Unfortunately, the decision has left travel operators dissatisfied, as group tours to foreign destinations are among the most profitable ventures in India’s tourism industry.

Simon Bosshart, the Head of Markets East at Switzerland Tourism, acknowledged the issue and highlighted the current lack of staff at Swiss embassies, which is contributing to the delays in processing visa applications.

It’s worth noting that this situation is not unique to Switzerland. According to a media report, other Schengen countries, including Germany, France, and Italy, are also facing delays in processing visa applications due to reduced staff levels during the Covid-19 pandemic, with some applications being put on hold or pending.

While Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU), it is part of the Schengen area, a group of European countries that have abolished border controls between each other’s borders. As a result, Indian travelers planning to visit Switzerland are required to obtain a Schengen visa.

The Schengen area constitutes the largest free travel zone in the world, enabling individuals to travel to any member country for a stay of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes with a Schengen visa. However, the current visa application challenges highlight the need for adjustments and measures to manage the high demand during peak travel periods.

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