Belgium sees dip in visa applications from Mumbai
Positive about welcoming more Indian tourists post PK movie release
Rituparna Chatterjee – Mumbai
The Consulate General of Belgium in Mumbai, issued around 22,000 visas in 2014 as against 33,000 visas in 2013, witnessing a dip of around 10,000 visa applications in the current year. The reasons for visa applications plummeting have been the appreciation of the Euro as against the Indian rupee, a shift in preference among Indian travellers from the Belgium Consulate to French and Italian Consulates for visa issuance and aggressive promotional campaigns of competing international destinations. “The visa application have been plummeting because people are going to the French and Italian Consulates to get their visas. The expensive Euro is another element and South African Tourism and Tourism Australia have been promoting aggressively in the tourism segment. However, I am confident that next year there will be a rise again, post the launch of the Bollywood movie PK,” stated Karl Van den Bossche, consul general, Consulate General of Belgium in Mumbai. The first 15 minutes of PK have been shot in Bruges, Belgium. Post the release, the consul general is hopeful of the the visa application numbers going back to normal i.e. around 33,000.
Despite the plummeting visa applications, there has been a steady growth in the number of Indian corporates to Belgium. “Over the last year we have had a fall in tourists but there has been a very steady growth in corporates going to Belgium. We see a rise in Indian investments in Belgium, the diamond community is always going to Belgium,” he opined. The reason for this steady growth has been the fast track visa procedure introduced three years ago, he asserted. “Under this procedure, Indian investors can come to the Consulate and can file two to three papers and get it validated by an authorised signatory from companies. We have 50 Indian companies benefiting from this loyalty system and all those companies who have invested in Belgium gets a long term multiple entry visa,” he added.