Visas cost European tourism industry $1 billion

The cost and complexity of the Schengen zone tourist visa process is losing the European tourism industry an estimated $1 billion a year from the Indian market, preliminary findings from The ETOA (European Tourism Association) Visa Impact Survey have revealed.

ETOA surveyed members who provide travel arrangements for Indian clients travelling worldwide and found that of those who had travelled in the past 12 months nearly 60% had considered the Schengen zone as a destination.  But of those, 55% did not complete a visa application with 30% changing their mind before applying and 25% abandoning the application midway. The reasons for both were primarily due to cost, perceived practical difficulty and other negative factors associated with application.

The survey, conducted to inform debate on the reform of the Schengen Visa Code were published at the ETOA Tourism Summit in Lucerne on Tuesday 9 October 2018 and provide valuable insight for the debate about tourist visas post Brexit.

In 2017, 920,699 Schengen visa applications were received from Indian citizens; 837,109 were granted, giving an average refusal rate of 9%.

If the same refusal rate was applied to the 55% who, instead of changing their mind before applying or during the process, went on to complete a visa application, over half a million more visas would have been granted to Indian travellers. At an average in-destination spend of $2000 per person that represents $1 billion of potential opportunity cost to Europe, not counting the spend on international travel and accommodation.

Two thirds of those who never made or abandoned a Schengen visa application from India, still went on a foreign holiday. Over a fifth went to a European destination outside Schengen and UK/Ireland.

Tom Jenkins, Chief Executive of ETOA said: “Expensive, complicated tourist visa systems put off visitors. The new Schengen Visa Code needs to be fit for purpose for legitimate travel. The price point needs to be re-set and further investment is needed to speed up processing times.”