Residents wanting to fly to Schengen countries may have to wait until March for appointments, even though the processing time has decreased. Slots are fully booked, with many UAE residents now finalising their overseas holidays for the upcoming Eid breaks, experts said.
Multiple long breaks are lined up this year in the UAE, including one that may last for six days. Families are advised to scout for tickets and deals early as airfares usually soar by as much as 150 per cent in the run-up to big holidays.
The travel demand for Schengen countries — which include France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland — has been skyrocketing in recent weeks, agents said. Galadari International Travel Services, for example, said they are receiving nearly 20 enquiries per week.
By the end of last year, the processing time for Schengen visas took up to two months for some countries. “Now, it has dropped and can be completed in just a month or a few days extra,” said Libin Varghese, operational director of Rooh Travel and Tourism.
Though approvals are faster, travellers are finding it difficult to secure appointments.“In many consulates, the appointment time has been delayed due to many applications.
Residents are now planning their trip to Schengen countries for the Eid Al Adha break,” said Mir Wasim Raja, manager for MICE and holidays at Galadari International Travel Services.
Varghese said it could be easier to get appointment slots for Greece, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, compared to other countries.
“Appointments for a few countries like Greece and Germany are available in the next 10 days,” added Ranju Abraham, operations head at Tours on Board.For those who are looking to fast-track the visa procedures, some agencies are offering premium services.
“They can opt for the service by paying Dh400 extra,” said Abraham.