The world is moving again

WHEN international borders began to open in mid-2021, the travel and tourism industry expected a slow recovery, primarily due to too many travel restrictions still in place, coupled with uneven deployment of vaccines around the world.

However, the recent increase in travel activity has taken the industry by surprise, exceeding conservative recovery projections. According to visa outsourcing and technology services specialist VFS Global, the number of visa applications between January and August 2022 was almost four times higher than the total number of applications for the whole of last year.

Jiten Vyas, Chief Commercial Officer at VFS Global, said, “This increase is mainly due to strong pent-up travel demand. With international borders opening, travel restrictions easing and scheduled international flights resuming, the industry is experiencing a peak’revenge’ travel.

Canada and Australia were the top destinations for outbound travel from South Africa in terms of visa application volumes, while growth was also seen in outbound travel to Schengen destinations, particularly in Italy and the Netherlands. According to Vyas, the resumption of on-campus classes at overseas universities has also been a major contributing factor to the surge in outbound traffic.

“Even though the effects of the pandemic remain pervasive in some parts of the world, many embassies are still inundated with visa applications,” he adds.

Agility is key

“Keeping pace with change, our business has become even more customer-centric, resilient and efficient across our global network of more than 140 countries. As a result, in December 2020, we were able to resume operations at 1,600 Visa Application Centers (more than half of our global network), serving over 50 client governments in 129 countries. To date, two-thirds of the VFS Global application center network is now operational.

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