A tour operators’ body on Thursday said that embassies of Spain and Slovakia have agreed to issue ‘Gratis Visa’ to all Indians who were issued a visa earlier this year but could not undertake travel in the last few months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision came following the appeal by the Outbound Tour Operators’ Association of India (OTOAI), which had sent letters to European embassies in India, requesting them to issue Gratis Visas to all those travellers who despite having received valid travel visas this year could not undertake the planned visits, the association said in a statement.
“We are pleased with this development and remain hopeful that in times to come, more European Embassies agree to issuing Gratis Visa. We understand that it will take some time for outbound travel to pick up from India but moves such as these will help in building people’s confidence for international travel while also offering some relief to their pocket,” OTOAI President Riaz Munshi said.
Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to India Ivan Lancaric said, “Applicants, who could not travel on their Schengen visas to Slovakia, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, can apply for this visa fee waiver individually at the time of the submission of their new application.”
This possibility covers not only tourists, but all the Schengen visa categories, he said. “We are keen on promoting travel destinations in Slovakia, my visa section will assist the tourists travelling to Slovakia in this matter once they reapply for a Schengen visa,” he added.
The Embassy of Spain in an official statement said, “Please be informed that we (the Embassy of Spain) will reissue the visa without any cost. The petition for the same should be routed through BLS only, for which the applicant will be asked to pay the service tax to BLS.”