TAFI, VFS Global organise interactive session for members on visa issues
The Western Region Chapter of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) organised an interactive session with VFS Global in Mumbai on June 14. A large number of TAFI members were present in the meeting and raised the problems they have been facing on Visa front with Prabuddha Sen, COO, South Asia, VFS Global. Sen, answered a barrage of questions from the members and assured them that he will communicate to the Diplomatic Community about the problems. But, Sen made it clear that a solution is not possible overnight.
Later, speaking to TravelBiz Monitor, Ajay Prakash, President, TAFI, said that the event is a dialogue between TAFI and VFS Global. “We have been interacting with VFS Global and they are very helpful,” he said. Prakash pointed out that the agents have been facing problems on multiple fronts like getting visa appointments, procedures and in some cases extensive documentation etc. “So, the idea is to sit down and underdstand how they can assist us in streamlining the process. And also to ascertain their limitations in this direction. At the end of the day the goal of both VFS Global and the travel agents is same. Both are trying to ensure hassle-free travel for the passengers,” explained Prakash.
The meeting brought up the problems especially with Schengen visas. “One of the problems here is fingerprints. This (fingerprints) is supposed to be valid for five years, but many times the officials involved in the job can’t find it. This means travellers have to visit at the designated place again for the fingerprints. But getting appointments is also difficult,” explained Prakash. He also said that such issues are beyond the control of VFS Global. “It is the prerogative of the diplomatic mission which decides how many visas to be issued in a particular region for a particular period,” he pointed out.
TAFI requested VFS Global to liaise and communicate frequently with the association so that the members know what is happening on the slots and other things. “Both TAFI and VFS Global agreed upon to create a working group so that we can meet frequently and discuss issues,” said Prakash.
Sen while speaking to TravelBiz Monitor said that the problems of travel agents are as much as his problems. “There wouldn’t have problems if the whole process is smooth and we could have saved a lot of our operating costs. But this is not the case today,” said Sen. He said VFS Global will continue to support agents as they compliment each other. Sen made it amply clear that there is no quick solution to the problems. “We have to continue our efforts,” he said.