France to speed up visa delivery in drive to boost tourism

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PARIS (Reuters) – France will cut visa delivery time to 48 hours for Russians, Indians and citizens of six more Asian countries in a bid to boost tourism, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Wednesday.

After a drop in 2016 following a wave of attacks that hit Paris and Nice, tourist numbers are rebounding this year. France is eyeing a record of as many as 89 million foreign tourists, up from 83 million last year, and 100 million visitors in 2020.

Citizens of Russia, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia will from Nov. 1 see the time to get a visa – which now takes around 10 days or so, more in peak season – fall to 48 hours.

This measure, which is already in place for a few other countries, including Qatar, would be extended to Saudi Arabia and Vietnam next year if a change in EU visa procedures for those countries allow it.

The government also said it would assign more staff to airport passport checks to limit waiting time to 30 minutes for EU citizens and 45 minutes for non-EU citizens.

Tourism generates over 7 percent of France’s gross domestic product and employs 2 million people.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Larry King