First tourism kiosk at VFS Centre in Bengaluru
Ambassador of France to India Alexandre Ziegler inaugurates
first Atout France tourism kiosk and France Visa Facilitation Service Centre in Bengaluru.
Bengaluru, May 15th 2017
H.E. Mr Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, inaugurated the very first Atout France tourism kiosk in India, and its premises, the newly relocated France Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) Centre in Bengaluru. City residents as well as those from outside can now apply for their visa to France – which, of course, opens doors to all countries in the Schengen Area – at this modern and centrally-located office in Langford Town.
In a global first for France’s tourism promotion agency, Atout France, the tourism kiosk was inaugurated at a VFS centre. This VFS-Atout France initiative is a pilot project for disseminating information about France’s wide-ranging tourism opportunities. It will also soon enable travellers to book tickets and passes in advance for concerts, museums and touristic monuments in France while applying for a visa. Other centres will be hand-picked across the country in the near future, with Mumbai and Delhi being the next. Dedicated staff trained by Atout France will man the kiosks to guide travellers.
Welcoming the initiative, Mr Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, said, “France is the preferred tourism and business destination globally, receiving around 83 million tourists in 2016. It is a favourite outbound destination in India – in 2015 alone, a record 5 lakh Indian travellers visited France. I am delighted that VFS – a pioneer in its domain – is joining hands with Atout France on this global pilot project for the promotion of France’s matchless destinations geared towards Indian tourists, whom we look forward to welcoming in yet greater numbers.”
Commenting on the launch, Mr Vinay Malhotra, Chief Operating Officer – Middle East & South Asia, VFS Global, said, “We are confident this new France Visa Application Centre will offer greater convenience to the citizens of the state of Karnataka, in terms of both visa application processing and the ease with which applicants can get destination information, city tour passes, attraction tickets, etc. for France during the visa application process itself.”
Sheetal Munshaw, Director at Atout France – France Tourism Development Agency, is enthused about the inauguration of the first tourism kiosk at the VFS centre in Bangalore. She said, “Spearheaded by His Excellency Mr Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, in partnership VFS Global and Atout France, we are certain that this initiative will give momentum to our efforts of generating awareness about France as a leading tourist destination from the Indian perspective. Kiosks at VFS centres will ensure greater visibility for our destinations and versatile tourism offering that will make for an unforgettable holiday... à la française!”
Since the 1980s France has been ranked as the premier global tourist destination, with close to 83 million tourists in 2016. It is a fast-growing favourite destination amongst Indian tourists, over half-a-million of whom visited the country last year. In 2016, the Embassy of France and its Consulates across India issued close to 150 000 visas.
France has taken numerous proactive steps to facilitate the arrival of tourists from India, including:
easing the visa issuance procedure, granting applicants in India their short-stay visas within 48 hours;
granting work visa to students graduating from French business and engineering schools to extend their stay and acquire work experience in France;
granting tourist or business visas with a long validity period to Indian alumni holding a degree at the Master’s or higher level from a French higher education institution;
endeavouring to adapt to the Indian clientele: culinary preferences, expectations with regard to accommodation, audio guides in the English language, etc.;
increased flight routes from India to France.
VFS Global is the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. The company manages administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport, identity management and other citizen services for its client governments.
Atout France, the French Tourism Development Agency, provides expertise to tourism professionals to help them promote France internationally. Services provided by Atout France to its 1,250 private and public professional partners include observation and monitoring, development and engineering aid, promotion and marketing assistance, with a view to strengthening the tourism industry as the leading French economic sector.