The visa application volume from Kolkata has reached 85 per cent of the pre-pandemic level as travellers from here give vent to ‘revenge travel’ made easier by the re-opening up of borders and easing of Covid restrictions, according to a visa outsourcing firm.
Prabuddha Sen, Chief Operating Officer (South Asia) of VFS Global, said the volume showed a 160 per cent rise in 2022 as compared to 2021. This is higher than the Indian average as a whole.
On a pan-India average, the volume of visa applications reached 80 per cent of the pre-pandemic level and witnessed a 140 per cent rise in 2022 when compared to 2021, he said.
“We witnessed unprecedented demand from India in 2022, which led to an extended peak outbound travel season with steady volumes witnessed until December. We are confident that the momentum will further grow,” he said.
Sen said the visa application volume from Kolkata generally witnesses two peaks – during summer and Durga Puja – but in 2022, the autumn peak extended well beyond the festive period mainly because people indulged in ‘revenge travel’ after being confined to their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said Thailand, United Kingdom and United States were among the most preferred destinations from eastern India. Post-pandemic, VFS Global has also launched an initiative called ‘visa at your doorstep’, under which filled applications are collected from the customer’s house upon the payment of service charge and travel fare of the firm staffers.
“A defining trend noticed in travellers’ behaviour was wider adoption of personalised service which began since the pandemic. The ‘visa at your doorstep’ initiative, which the firm offers for 16 client governments including UK, Germany, France and Italy, grew by 2.5 times in Kolkata in 2022 as compared to 2021,” he added.