Schengen Visa

Schengen Visa Delays Drift UAE Travellers Who Need a Visa to Southeast Asia

European destinations are no longer a top pick for residents from the United Arab Emirates as they are opting for other holiday destinations such as Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, especially ahead of the Eid Al Adha holiday, which will take place in the last week of June.

According to Online Travel Agencies and experts in the field, UAE residents are continuously picking countries in the East and in the Indian Ocean, while delays in getting Schengen visa appointments for some UAE travellers that need a visa to travel to the zone are on the rise, reports.

In addition, airfares to Europe are expensive, and the United Kingdom and European airports are increasingly dealing with disruptions due to strikes. 

“The majority of trending destinations for Q2 and Q3 travel are in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, with Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan benefitting,” Mike Ferguson, Director of Destination Marketing at Skyscanner, said.

Travel specialists say that even Sri Lanka is opening in a big way in addition to Albania, which, according to Nick Hall, the CEO of Digital Tourism Think Tank, is the only trending European destination among the top ten best destinations.

Schengen Visa Delays Can Be Driving UAE Travellers Away

According to Ghassan Al-Khatib, a Dubai-based luxury travel expert, promises from embassies to resolve the issue of visa delays only divert these travellers’ attention to other destinations.

“The only people who can travel to Europe this season are travellers who already have visas,” he said, with the only option for preventing the lengthy waiting time being applying for Schengen visas at least six months in advance.

“Schengen visa applicants can apply up to six months in advance of their intended travel. This allows individuals to plan their trips well ahead of time and mitigate the impact of appointment system delays,” the EU delegation in the UAE has noted, but the same recognises that this is a concern for European countries.

One possibility for why visas are being delayed could be linked to the transition to the digitalised process of Schengen visas online, also known as ETIAS, but it will take another two years before it is fully implemented.

UAE Travellers Content With Steady Airfares to Non-EU Destinations

One of the reasons for the outcome is believed to be the steady airfares to these destinations outside Europe. While UAE carriers record a surge in their operations to South East Asian airports, airfares have remained within the same price range.

Direct airfares to Thailand stand between €164 and €242 from June 23 to 30, when the Eid Al Adha holidays are, while direct flights to Bali can cost €645 and €297 for Jakarta.

Destinations like Japan can cost around €300 unless they are non-stop flights, which in that case, can be pricier, such as €610. The fares shoot up to €393 to €694 to most South East Asian destinations from July 1 onwards, once the summer holidays kick in.