LONDON – The number of tourist visa applications in January 2023 has seen an explosive rise in comparison to the same period last year, according to figures from visa agency e-Visa.co.uk.
Applications are generally also being submitted well before departure, indicating that travellers are confident COVID-19 will not cause any disruptions.
Turning point reached
Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show that flights were down 23% in the second quarter of 2022 compared to pre-pandemic numbers. However, visa agency e-Visa.co.uk has noticed a turning point being reached in recent months.
Based on recent visa application numbers, the agency expects travel to be back to normal in 2023.
Travel limitations not decisive for many travellers
It is noteworthy that the rise in visa applications is not just due to travel limitations being lifted. Several destinations had already dropped most of their limitations in the winter of 2021/2022.
Egypt and Kenya, two popular winter holiday destinations, are prime examples of this. To travel to these countries early 2022, all that was required was a vaccination certificate or test result.
However, the number of visa applications for those countries was down almost 50% compared to pre-pandemic numbers. A general sense of unease about the future played a major part in this.
This downward trend has since turned. According to recent numbers from e-Visa.co.uk, the number of visa applications for Egypt and Kenya in 2023 has more than doubled compared to the same month a year ago.
The most likely reason for this rise is that travellers are no longer concerned that the virus will impact their travel plans.
Spectacular rise New Zealand, Australia and India
The rise in visa applications is even more spectacular for destinations that still had strict entry requirements early 2022.
Prime examples of these are New Zealand, Australia and India. After gradually relaxing coronavirus rules throughout 2022, the number of visa applications for these destinations has increased more than six-fold in just a year’s time.
Time between visa application and departure date
This increased sense of trust is also confirmed by another indicator. e-Visa.co.uk monitors how long before departure visa applications are submitted.
In January 2022, visa applications were on average being submitted two weeks closer to the departure date compared to pre-pandemic applications.
This indicated people were hesitant to make long-term plans for fear of COVID-19 disruptions, instead preferring to arrange things short-term.
In January 2023, the average time between submitting a visa application and the departure date was back to its pre-pandemic level.
The fact that tourists are once again submitting their visa applications well before departure suggests that they are not particularly concerned about COVID-19 negatively impacting their travel plans.