According to the Swiss embassy in New Delhi, applications for Schengen visas from Indian tour groups won’t be accepted until October.
As stated by the embassy, this choice was made as a result of the substantial backlog of applications that still need to be handled.
Following the announcement from the embassy, tour operators said they had been asked to plan group trips for a later time so that visas can be submitted and issued in time before the travel date, Temedia explains.
While the embassy said that they are unable to process the high number of applications they have been receiving, the tour operators were not happy about this.
Group tours outside the country are the most profitable for tour operators in India and for this reason, they are trying to make it possible for those interested to reach the bloc without further delays.
Commenting on the matter, the Head of Markets East at Switzerland Tourism, Simon Bosshart said that he is aware of the problem and stressed that the Swiss embassies are currently dealing with a lack of staff.
Bosshart is responsible for the Asian market and stressed that apart from Indians, the staff shortages are also affecting travellers from China who wish to visit Switzerland in groups.
According to him, before the Coronavirus pandemic, there were around 17 visa processing centres in China. However, due to the pandemic, the activity suddenly stopped and since then, the embassies have been dealing with issues and have been unable to process the high number of applications in time.
Addressing the issues, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs said that the country is currently processing 94 per cent of the visa applications that were made available in 2019.
“While Switzerland is already processing 94 per cent of the visa applications made available in 2019, many other Schengen countries at various locations have not yet been able to restore their visa capacities from 2019,” the statement of the Department reads.
The same stressed that the delays are closely linked to the so-called visa shopping, saying that this is affecting the scheduling and processing of visa applications.
All foreigners applying for a Switzerland Schengen visa must submit several documents.
They must submit the fully completed and signed Swiss visa application form, their passport, two passport photos, and copies of previous visas.
Moreover, applicants must also submit a round-trip flight itinerary, proof of having booked a place to stay in Switzerland, proof of sufficient financial means, and proof of having purchased travel health insurance, among others.