Hyderabad: Indian cricket fans could be lording over the stadiums in England this time as the Cricket World Cup begins, with over 80,000 Indians expected to travel to the United Kingdom for the tournament beginning later this month.
This, according to a spokesperson of the British High Commission, is based on previous India-UK travel trends and the numbers of Indians travelling for earlier tournaments.
“Our rough estimate is around 80,000 Indians may travel for the World Cup. We don’t have a global estimate for how many people in total will travel, but it is extremely likely that India will be the highest number – given the size of the market and passion for the sport in India,” the spokesperson said.
“The number of visa applications certainly appears to be higher due to cricket this year. An average is hard to say, but during peak (e.g. April-July) it is usually 100-150% higher than off-peak (e.g. November-January). At the moment, demand is higher still – and receiving more than 3,500 applications a day from India is common,” he said, adding that the Commission’s visa services partner VFS Global had processed over two lakh UK visa applications in India, from January to April 2019.
“In March and April of 2019 alone, over 1,32,000 UK visa applications were submitted at VFS Global, which accounted for around 65 per cent of the overall UK visa application count in January to April 2019. Despite this we are confident that we will keep up our 2018 record of 97% of all applicants receiving a decision on their application within 15 working days,” the High Commission official said.
Visa agencies too are busy with offers.
Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group Chief Operating Officer, VFS Global, said his firm has been offering a range of value-added services to improve the UK visa application process and the experience itself.
“Since the tournament is coinciding with the peak travel season from India, VFS Global’s special packages for UK visa applicants include group appointments, priority and super priority visas, doorstep visa application services, and even match tickets through Britain Travel Shop,” he said.
From cricket matches to social media campaigns, efforts are on to encourage more Indian cricket fans go to England to relive the summer of 1983, when India first won the World Cup.
“UK immigration rules allow Indians to apply up to three months in advance. From April until the end of the tournament, we will continue the second part of our campaign – encouraging late bookers to use Priority Visa. This will get a decision in five working days (rather than the standard 15 working days) and means everyone can get a decision in time for the match they want to see,” officials said.