The Scandinavian countries are similar in a number of ways, but one point on which they differ is the way they handle visa applications. A study shows that Denmark is far from living up to the standard set by the other Nordic countries, and that, the report says, has a negative effect on tourism.
Two students, Anders Mosbæk-Guildal and Anna Klasson, from Copenhagen Business School have recently written, published, and defended a final project they wrote as part of their bachelor education at the Center for Tourism and Culture Management. In the project, the students compare and contrast data from the Scandinavian embassies in Bangkok and evaluate how the visa application systems affect tourism in the respective countries. They conclude that the way the Danish embassy handles the visa applicants and the application process is part of the reason that the number of Thai tourists in Denmark is declining.
At the Danish Embassy in Bangkok, however, Ambassador Michael Sternberg dismisses these accusations. As the Embassy became aware of the criticism, it called for a meeting where the Ambassador told ScandAsia’s reporters that you cannot blame visa regulations for the fact that more tourists go to for example Norway.
“I don’t believe that the way we handle visa applications is responsible for the drop in numbers of tourists who visit Denmark,” the Ambassador Michael Sternberg said.
“I think it is more likely that it has to do with the fact that there are cheap and direct flights to Norway.”
In their report, Anders Mosbæk-Guildal and Anna Klasson highlight the experience many visa applicants have when they apply for a Danish visa. According to the students, many Thais feel criminalized because they have to fill out an additional form to the application and thus provide the embassy with a lot of personal information – something other embassies do not require.
However, Michael Sternberg says that this is because that is how the rules in Denmark are and that it has nothing to do with the Embassy in Bangkok as such.
“There is a set of ground rules that all the Schengen countries have to follow when dealing with visa applicants. There are then some additional rules, and it is up to the individual countries to decide how they interpret those rules. In Denmark that rule is that applicants have to fill out that form, and we have to follow that rule.”
He adds that the Embassy has done a lot over the past year to improve the visa application process and to bring down the waiting time, and he says that they have in fact succeeded in doing so.
“I think we have gone out of our way to make this a better experience for everyone, and we have been trying to do so for a long time. Now that we have VFS handling the applications, we no longer have long waiting lists, we get very few complaints, and we have even received letters from people thanking us for what we have done,” Michael Sternberg says.
“It’s too bad,” the Ambassador he finishes. “The students have made some good observations, but unfortunately they have drawn the wrong conclusions from them.”