[IMG=21172-7003] The situation concerning visas issued by the German Consulate is still far from adequate, and an increase in the visa-issuing period has added a further problem to tour operators’ spring and summer concerns.
Svetlana Stroganova, Director of Euro-expo.ru has told BANKO that the current situation is so bad that there are cases where potential tourists are actually prevented from going to Germany by problems the at the Consulate. ‘We have to partly bear responsibility for this. There are cases when passports are given to tourists after the date when a visa was issued’, added Alexander Turchenko, Director of Chaika-tour.
Experts say that the visa issuing process can take anything from three days to three weeks - and that this makes it difficult for tour operators to work out the date it will be issued; as a consequence, it is almost impossible to plan departures dates for their clients. Konstantin Bulanov, Head of the German Department of Jet Travel, said: ‘on Friday we did not get seven planned visas for our clients, on Monday - two visas’. According to Bulanov, the delays mainly relate to documents that are accepted by the Consulate without them interviewing the applicants first - for example, those who buy expensive tours with 5* accommodation, or groups going to international fairs in Germany.
However, the situation is not better for those who are interviewed in the Consulate. Given the previous application for an interview the visa issuing process can take 30-40 days.
Meanwhile, the Consulate itself admits a problem - but denies that there is anything unusual about it. ‘it is normal. The increase of visa issuing process is explained by annual leave of Consulate agents’, commented a representative of the Consulate to a BANKO correspondent.
Meanwhile, experts believe it is possible to optimize the workload of Consulate agents. For example, when tourists register for the interview it could be reasonable to require passport details and tour dates. At the moment in order to register for the interview only tourist name is required - and that results into a “virtual queue” of tourists that do not come to the Consulate on the agreed day buy create an illusion of a big tourist flow.
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