France top tourist destination for Indians: Envoy

11 Oct 2017

France has become the top tourist destination for Indian travellers with a 50 per cent increase in the number of those visiting the country in the last two years, Ambassador of France to India Alexandre Ziegler said here today. Inaugurating a branch office of the Consulate General of France based at Puducherry, he told reporters here, "France has now become the first tourist destination for Indians."  "The total number of Indian tourists who visited France last year was 6,00,000, a sharp rise from around 3,00,000 in 2014," Ziegler said. Asserting that there has been "more then 50 per cent," increase in the number of visa applications, mostly seeking tourist visas, he said in the first six months of this year, the growth in the number of applications was around 35 per cent. Ziegler said the processing time for visas will be two working days.
To a question on student visas, he said, "We have set a target of 10,000 students visas (to be) issued by 2020... from 4,000 last year...and 5,500 this year."  Asked if Indian students choose France for any specific course the way they opt China for studies in medicine, Ziegler said his country offered a whole lot of programmes with management schools being very popular. He also said, "We are increasing the number of scholarships."  On Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy requesting that French President Emmanuel Macron visit the union territory during his proposed visit to the country in December, he said it has not been decided yet and the request would be communicated to his government.
Addressing the gathering at the inauguration of the branch, Ziegler said the new office will offer consular services, issuance of visas and services to French community in Chennai, which was growing steadily. The Consul General based in Puducherry would be available at least two days a week in Chennai, the envoy said. Economic facilitation and fostering people to people exchanges through academic and cultural cooperation would be among the other activities of the branch office, he noted. It will provide "proximity and accessibility" to the public and the inauguration is, once again, a "testimony of the very strong momentum that our (Indo-French) relation is experiencing," Ziegler said. (PTI)