Many UAE residents have already made plans to go overseas during the upcoming four-day holiday
Some UAE residents are changing their holiday plans for the upcoming Eid Al Adha break due to long waiting times for interview slots to get a Schengen visa.
UAE residents will get a long weekend in July as the UAE marks Eid Al Adha. As per astronomical calculations, the Islamic holiday is expected to be from July 8 to July 11, giving public and private sector employees in the UAE a four-day weekend. The actual dates will be determined by the sighting of the crescent moon.
Travel agencies and residents who have been trying to book are unable to get a booking before end of July.
“The earliest appointment I could find was for July 27,”
said Malik Bedekar, Operations Manager at Smart Travel.
“We had a lot of queries for Switzerland, but there is no way for us to get appointments. There are options to pay for a premium service, but those are also limited.”
Malik said there is demand for travel on the sector.
“After two years, a lot of people want to travel for their vacation. We have been getting a lot of enquiries for Europe. We have some great packages that we want to push. However, the inability to get appointments for visa is really impacting this.”
A spokesperson for Deira Travels also confirmed that they have been facing delays in getting appointments for clients for the Schengen visa. In a statement, they said
“Getting an appointment is a big challenge. We have many clients who are interested in travelling, but their travel plans either get cancelled or diverted to countries with visa on arrival option. There have been situations where some appointment slots opened up randomly, probably due to the cancellation of existing appointments. However, these slots would be for one or two individuals and will not benefit family travelers.”
For Dubai resident Sameer, it is the second time he has had to change his travel plans to Switzerland.
“I had booked my tickets and hotel stay in Switzerland during the school midterm break but when I tried to get an appointment for the Schengen visa interview, it was not available till the end of March. So at the time, I changed all my bookings, lost some money and travelled to Mauritius.”
“Anticipating this delay, I tried to book my visa appointment for Switzerland for the summer break in April. However, there was nothing available at the time till mid-July. Rather than risk not being able to travel at all I decided to book to Norway instead. I got all my documentation sorted ahead of time. However, now I wanted to take my mother along for my trip, but it is impossible as there are no appointments for Norway visa either.”
“I think it is quite unfortunate, and many of the European countries are losing out on good income due to tourism because of these visa delays. No one plans that far ahead for a holiday any more. So countries, who have already lose out on so much income during the Covid-19 pandemic, should be doing more to ensure that those who want to travel can do so with ease.”
Smart Travel’s Malik agrees that people are making last-minute travel plans.
“With so much uncertainty and the possibility of travel bans, people don’t want to plan much in advance. For example, we have a group tour leaving today. We got a call last night from a family who wanted to book for it. That is the general trend we are seeing these days.”
News Source: Khaleej Times