UAE based Swiss office issues Schengen visa
THE Swiss consulate in Dubai and the embassy in Abu Dhabi will now issue Schengen visas.
Currently the Schengen visa members are Austria, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands. Visa process times range from 48 hours to two weeks depending on the nationality of the applicant, according to Gerhard Bruegger, consul general in Dubai in a Gulf News report.
Some nationalities have to wait for approval from other countries. There are four categories of visa: an airport transit visa, a transit visa, a short-term stay visa and a national visa. There is also a visa that combines the functions of a short term stay and national visa.
The Swiss embassy and consulate in the UAE issue 14,500 visas every year. “Emirati passport holders can already travel to Switzerland on a Schengen visa. Including Emirati passport holders, we have 25,000 to 30,000 visitors to Switzerland from the UAE per year,” said Bruegger.
Tourist arrival figures to Switzerland from GCC Arab countries this year totalled, up until the end of September, 99,140. The GCC is two per cent of the total foreign markets, according to Jörg Krebs, director of marketing for Gulf countries for Switzerland Tourism.
Top visitor markets from the Middle East were Saudi Arabia, generating about 50 per cent of the total GCC figures, followed by Kuwait at 20 per cent, followed by UAE at 10 per cent and Qatar at eight per cent.
Since Switzerland Tourism opened its office in the region five years ago it has experienced an annual growth of about 10 to 15 per cent according to Krebs. “We expect a light drop from all our markets of around three per cent next year,” he said.
There was a slight change in travel trends from the Middle East with more visitors making use of four star properties. Also, visitors were choosing new destinations such as Zurich, Interlaken, Lugano, Lucerne St Moritz, Zermatt, SaasFee and Villars along with the traditional ones.
The tourism body plans yearly road shows in the GCC (with 20 Swiss delegates) and workshops in Switzerland (40 travel agencies are invited), plus media trips, press conferences and local promotions for its marketing strategy.
“For 2009 we will strengthen our e-marketing with newsletters, e-mailings, special offers and will be introducing a re-launch of our website for the Gulf countries. Of course a close partnership with our national airline Swiss and our embassies and consulates are very important for our success.”