Visa issues are affecting inbound tourism to Spain from India. José María Ridao, Ambassador, Embassy of Spain, New Delhi, says they are awaiting the Indian ministry’s approval to open a new consulate general in Bengaluru.
Spain is one of the most popular Schengen destinations for Indian tourists. With a vast market for outbound tourism in the country, the only issue is the documentation process, especially visa. José María Ridao, Ambassador, Embassy of Spain, New Delhi, said, “India is a country with a transitioning economy. It’s a big, beautiful country, and you have almost 200 million people ready to travel. The problem arises because all the established rules of travel to Schengen countries are for the old India, not the India in transition. And that’s where comes in the problem with visas. In order to handle this problem, since it is a huge problem for all European countries, we have the possibility of thinking about some changes in national policies.”
He added, “Speaking about Spain, we are trying to open a new consulate general in Bengaluru. We are waiting for the green light from the Indian ministry. We facilitated the opening of a consulate general in Barcelona, we communicated it to them in August, and now we are waiting for their approval here. The second thing is that we have improved our infrastructure of the visa section and the consulate section here in Delhi. We segregated the visa section to a new building. We are increasing the number of people working for the visas. We are rethinking the procedures to give more visas. Regardless, Spain is one of the fastest countries to issue visas, and the bottleneck is not receiving visas but presenting the documents for the visas. Here in Delhi we have had meetings with the European ambassadors and the European Union, and one of the issues that we have raised as rotatory presidency of the EU is precisely the question of visas. Visas are not a common policy in Europe, but we have to resolve this situation because I insist India is facing a dual situation. The only thing I can say is that we are fully engaged in improving the system, and it’s always a pleasure for us to receive Indian people. We just need some time on revamping the entire system.”
Spain offers a diverse range of experiences for Indian travellers — starting from landscapes, to cultural festivities, to gastronomy. Especially for the culinary delights, there are options galore for the Indian tourists. Ridao said, “The gastronomy of Spain is very diverse. There have already been some agreements between Indian institutions who cater to tourism and gastronomy and their Spanish counterparts. We have a programme to bring chefs from India to Spain, so as to know more about Spanish gastronomy, and interpret Spanish food using Indian ingredients, which is very exciting. The Spanish tradition of tapas is also something gaining interest in India. We have a lot of Indian chefs making different versions of tapas in an Indian way, and it’s not just food, it’s a way of living and experience.”
Within these efforts to boost tourism within the country, Spain has a determined focus on sustainability and green economy. “Green economy is our priority. That is because Spain depends on all its markets for energy, and we have to improve our system in order to be more efficient, while respecting the environment. Respecting the environment is very important because we are trying to preserve the space that people are living in, and preserve the space that tourists are coming in. Therefore, we are aiming at conservation of natural landscapes. All the hotels and other institutions are doing their best to not be aggressive to the landscape. They are trying to be coherent to the environment they are in,” he said.