UAE flights: More residents opting to visit countries offering e-visa, visa on arrival
UAE residents are increasingly opting to travel to countries which offer e-visa and visa on arrival, said a senior official of VFS Global. Many countries, such as Azerbaijan, Maldives, Georgia, Armenia and others, offer visa-on-arrival or e-visa services to many UAE residents and nationals.
Outbound travel and tourism from the UAE post-Covid-19 have grown exponentially, reaching closer to the pre-pandemic level.
“There has been an increased demand for countries that offer e-visa and visa-on-arrival services, such as Thailand, Suriname, and most recently, Indonesia (which started in September 2022),” said Pranav Sinha, head for Middle East, VFS Global.
Travel agents say that people prefer visiting countries that offer e-visa or visa on arrival because it is quick and makes life easier for UAE residents as they don’t have to spend hours in the queue waiting to apply for a visa and then spend days to get a response from consulates and embassies.
“This is especially in cases where big families travel to a holiday destination and filling forms and waiting for visas is a cumbersome process. In addition, the cost element is also involved for some people,” said a travel executive.
VFS serves 67 countries through visa application centres across 144 locations worldwide. In the UAE, it serves 40 governments through a network of 72 visa application centres. This includes the Philippines ePassport Renewal Centre in Dubai, providing passport services to Filipino nationals residing in the UAE.
With travel resuming after a gap of nearly two years, 2022 saw an unprecedented rise in demand for visas.
In UAE, as of November 2022, VFS recorded a 25 per cent increase in application numbers over 2019, with the peak travel season extending well beyond the traditional summer months. “We expect 2023 to see continued high demand for international travel,” said Sinha.
Several holiday destinations are easily accessible to UAE residents. “With the reopening of borders, the resumption of regular flights, and the pent-up demand for travel, there’s a lot of interest in popular destinations such as Canada, the UK, and Europe, among others,” Sinha said.
VFS Global’s head for the Middle East urged all travellers to apply for their visas well in advance to avoid delays.
“Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days in advance, with Schengen accepting documents up to six months prior to the date of travel,” he informed, suggesting people check the government and VFS websites for the latest visa processing timelines and document checklists to ensure they have all the necessary paperwork for a seamless visa application process.