Gujarat travelers encounter delays in obtaining Schengen visas during the European summer, disrupting travel schedules and financial gains. Visa advisors and travel agencies emphasize the obstacles, leading some to choose Southeast Asia over Europe due to prolonged appointment wait times.

In Ahmedabad, as the charm of the European summer calls out to travelers from Gujarat during the holiday season, they encounter a rather vexing hurdle: the Schengen visa application process.

The enthusiasm of eager travelers meticulously planning their European adventures has been tempered by the frustrating delays in securing visa appointments for their desired destinations across Europe’s scenic landscapes.

Lalit Advani, a visa consultant based in Ahmedabad, highlighted the challenge faced by travelers starting their visa application process as early as April. Securing visa appointment slots becomes increasingly difficult, with wait times extending for two to three months, especially for those planning trips to Scandinavian destinations. Stringent documentation requirements further exacerbate the frustrations of travelers in this situation.

Even with thorough submission of necessary documents like return air tickets, confirmed hotel bookings, and comprehensive travel insurance, obtaining a visa appointment proves to be a challenging hurdle for travelers. This delay is only prolonging their travel plans, he emphasized.

Travel operators indicate that only individuals who arranged their European getaways as early as January of this year are able to journey to Europe by the end of April or in May.

Kirit Solanki, a professional, had a pre-planned conference scheduled in Germany for May of this year. Despite being assured in November last year that obtaining the visa would be easy, he encountered delays when he submitted his application in January. His application was placed on a waiting list, and he has finally secured a visa appointment for the end of April. This delay is causing concern as it disrupts his work travel arrangements.

Approximately 60% of a travel company’s yearly revenues are driven by summer holiday bookings, with Europe representing a substantial portion of this segment.

‘Alteration of travel arrangements due to extended visa processing times.’

The postponement of visa appointments is disrupting travel plans, leading to financial losses for travel companies. Rising airfares and hotel costs add to the burden, while last-minute cancellations due to pending visas result in hefty cancellation fees for customers. Virendra Shah, chairman of the Travel Agents’ Association of India (TAAI) Gujarat chapter, noted that one client has redirected their family holiday to Southeast Asia due to visa issues.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Prathesh Thakkar, a visa consultant from Ahmedabad, remarked, “The two-month waiting period frequently acts as a deterrent for travelers. Even with bookings made today, the soonest appointment is usually in June, meaning travel wouldn’t commence until July. This significant timeline disruption not only hampers travel plans but also presents logistical hurdles, especially for organizing group tours.”

Consequently, individuals pressed for time during travel face significant repercussions. Additionally, travelers are forced to bear the financial strain of non-reimbursable flight tickets or substantial cancellation fees for both flights and accommodations.

The decision to grant or refuse a visa lies entirely within the discretion of the respective governments. We strongly advise applicants to apply sufficiently in advance of their intended travel, considering the processing timelines of various authorities. Applicants should remain cautious of fraudulent entities that demand fees from individuals for appointment scheduling,” stated a spokesperson from VFS Global, addressing the issue.

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