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Schengen visa rule to boost travel to Europe



The new Schengen visa regime, which gives frequent Indian travellers access to multi-year visas for up to five years, will increase the outbound travel from India to European destinations, airlines and airports said.

German carrier Lufthansa said this will fasten the process of Indian travellers who want to go to Europe. “This is a development in the right direction and a quicker path to longer term visas provides relief to many eligible Indian nationals who need to travel frequently into the Schengen area,” said George Ettiyil, senior director (South Asia), Lufthansa Group.

The Lufthansa group operates 64 weekly flights between Germany and five cities in India.

According to the newly adopted visa “cascade” regime for India, Indian nationals can now be issued long-term, multi-entry Schengen visas valid for two years after having obtained and lawfully used two visas within the previous three years.

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The two-year visa will normally be followed by a five-year visa, if the passport has sufficient validity remaining. During the validity period of these visas, holders enjoy travel rights equivalent to visa-free nationals, the EU said.

Last summer, delays in securing the Schengen visa troubled Indian travellers.

Airports Council International, a global group of airports, had counted liberalisation of visa rules as a major catalyst to boost travel between India and Europe.

The grouping had asked for enhanced cooperation between India and EU to reduce red tape in terms of visa issuance, which it said was cumbersome for Indian citizens.

A simplification of the process, including the speedy delivery of consular and visa services, would facilitate the movement of people between India and EU and enhance business relations and tourism – particularly, considering the growing disposable income of Indian citizens which is set to increase the currently low propensity to fly, the group said.

“Consumers in India would be the first beneficiary of closer cooperation, with fewer hurdles and more choices to fly, more competitive prices and improved service more respectful of the environment. All this is subject to ensuring a strong commitment by both parties to further liberalise traffic rights, simplify the visa issuance to fly to the Schengen area, introduce a one-stop-security regime to unleash the potentials of Indian airports as international hubs and secure public and private investment for the decarbonisation of the sector,” Stefano Baronci, director general of ACI Asia-Pacific said.

Travel and tour companies said that the relaxation will primarily benefit travellers who have obtained a Schengen visa twice in the past three years.

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