French government has taken drastic steps to tap the growing interest and fascination for France among the Indian tourists. Initiatives such as the 48 hour visa policy, introduction of eight new VFS centres and ChaloParis app does not only intend to increase the tourist inflow but also for their comfortable stay.
French visa in 48 hours
These new measures show that once again, France is committed to strengthening the connectivity between France and India even further at all levels. Removing barriers and hurdles is our core objective,” said François Richier, Ambassador of France to India, at French soirée at his residence in New Delhi in November where he made announcements to ease the travel procedure for Indian visitors. To open France even wider to Indian tourists, the French government has taken strong steps. Tourist and business visas for Indians visiting France will now be delivered by the French consulates within 48 hours or two working days. This announcement confirmed the promise made by Laurent Fabius, French minister for foreign affairs during his visit to India in July 2014 regarding application of 48 hour visa policy beginning from the first day of the year 2015. In case of extension of deadline, however, due to missing documents or inaccuracies in the visa application, a text message will be sent automatically to the applicant.
The number of visas delivered by French consulates in India jumped by 33 per cent in 2014 compared to 2013, with a total of 80,000 visas delivered from January to October and was expected to reach 90,000 by the end of 2014. Yeshwant Pawar, General Manager, South Asia, Air France KLM, who was present at the event, appreciated the initiative in favour of the Indian travellers and said, “We applaud this strategic move on the part of the Embassy as France is a great destination and Paris is highly popular among the new generation of Indian travellers. We consider this as a significant move for making Paris the most accessible European capital for Indian tourists.”
Indian tourists enjoy diverse touristic experiences offered by France and its regions: the appeal of visiting iconic monuments in Paris and its rich cultural life, seaside resorts on the French Riviera and mountain retreats remain top reasons for the Indian traveller to plan a French holiday. France is also the world’s top skiing destination.
Eight new VFS centres
In addition to easing out visa procedure, the Richier also announced of his plans to open eight new Visa Application Centres (VFS) throughout India that were made operational from December 1, 2014. These VFS are located in Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Pune, Goa, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Hyderabad and Jaipur. This extended network will enable French authorities to gain proximity to Indian applicants and to cater effectively to the increasing number of tourists wanting to visit France. Indian citizens would be free to apply for a visa from any VFS centre as opposed to the past when applicants had to go to a specific VFS centre depending on their area of residence. This can be of great help to the tourists for practical, individual situations such as a person living in one city but spending some time in another across India. Visas in these centres will be delivered within 72 hours taking into account the the necessary transportation of visa applications to the French consulates.
Chalo Paris app
The occasion also marked the launch of the much awaited ‘ChaloParis’ app for the comfort of the Indian travellers visiting France by Tim Guillois, The Links CEO who conceived the app. It has been customised to the needs and likings of the Indian visitors planning a French holiday and developed for smart phones and tablets. The application provides useful information on:
• Monuments and tourist spots in Paris
• Restaurants in Paris with a particular focus on vegetarian restaurants and some recommendations by Rashmi Uday Singh, a food-critic from India and self-acclaimed Paris-fan
• Shopping areas in popular districts and night-life
• Visits to French regions easily accessible from Paris: Normandy, the Loire Valley, Mont Saint-Michel, Bordeaux and its vineyards.
• Practical features for English-French/ French-English translation to assist travellers in day-to-day situations
• All useful telephone numbers and euro/rupee convertor.
• The ‘ChaloParis’ app has been available for the general public from December 10, 2014 on Apple store, Android and Google play and has come as a boon to specifically the independent and discerning Indian travellers who wish to navigate and discover on their own while travelling.