UAE Schengen visa delay: Residents explore cheaper, cooler alternatives

As the summer holiday travel season sets in, residents are now finding it extremely difficult to get Schengen visas due to lack of appointment slots


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Thu 4 Jul 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 4 Jul 2024, 10:05 PM

High-end travellers from the UAE are opting for popular and expensive destinations across Asia and other visa-friendly countries, while budget-conscious residents are opting for more economical destinations in the region and Indian subcontinent during summer travel seasons due to challenges in getting visas for Schengen countries.

As the summer holiday travel season sets in, UAE residents are now finding it extremely difficult to get visas to Schengen countries due to lack of appointment slots. Those residents who applied for the European region visa months ago will be able to travel during the summer break. But others have no option but to look for alternatives.

For residents who were not able to get Schengen visas, industry executives say Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Latvia, Slovania and the Saudi of city Abha have emerged as the new popular destination this summer.

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Affluent UAE travellers are opting for Bali, Turkey and Maldives.

Raheesh Babu, COO of, said customers are preferring destinations that offer hassle-free visas to UAE tourists.

“We are seeing more tractions to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey and CIS countries because appointments are easy. Most of the people, on average, are opting for four days and five nights stays,” said Babu.

He added that since airfares are quite high to home countries of many expats, they are opting for closer destinations in the region such as Salalah and Abha.

Musafir also have a special arrangement with Schengen countries to facilitate visas for local travellers in order to promote tourism in European countries.

Outbound travel picks up in the region as people fly to cooler climes. According to Iata’s latest figures released on Wednesday, Middle Eastern airlines saw a 9.7 per cent year-on-year increase in demand in May, surpassing capacity growth of 9 per cent year-on-year.

Asian routes to the Middle East are particularly strong, now standing some 32 per cent higher than in 2019. Another notable development is the Europe-Middle East route, which saw an April-May revenue passenger kilometres increase for two years in a row, reversing the previous historic pattern of a decline between these months.

Reena Philip, general manager for operations at AirTravel Enterprises, said people are preferring countries where they can get visa-on-arrival or visas without any hassle such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

“Sri Lanka has also picked up very well. Then there are traditional destinations such as Bali and Maldives. Japan was also popular but there are some e-visa issues now,” she said.

Philip added that there are no appointments available for Schengen region till September 2024, unless some people cancel appointments.

Due to the challenge posed with appointments, Avinash Adnani, managing director of Neo Travels and Tourism, said people are looking at alternative options such as Turkey, Bali and Southeast Asian destinations because the weather is better there.

“Also, there is no problem in Turkey, Maldives and Bali when it comes to halal food and visas also. Most of these destinations are getting high-end travellers from the UAE while budget-conscious tourists are going to Malaysia and Sri Lanka,” he added.


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