How Single Schengen Visa Made European Union A New Powerhouse of International Travel Industry With Astonishing Growth?


Thursday, June 27, 2024

Reading Time: 12 minutes

The single Schengen visa facilitates travel by eliminating the need for multiple visas and border checks within the area, covering 27 Schengen nations. This is particularly advantageous for business travel and corporate travel, where efficiency and time management are crucial. The implementation of the Single Schengen Visa has transformed the European Union into a powerhouse of the international travel industry, driving remarkable growth and facilitating seamless travel across its member states. The Schengen visa came into effect on March 26, 1995. This allowed for the abolition of internal border checks between the initial member countries, enabling passport-free travel across much of Europe. The agreement was initially signed in 1985 in the village of Schengen, Luxembourg, and its implementation marked a significant step towards European integration, promoting greater mobility and cooperation among the member states. Seeing this, Across Europe, the 27 Schengen nations provides seamless travel are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. But international travellers did you know that there is a new visa that is built in the form of Schengen but functions for the GCC, Africa and Southeast Asia? Well, it has actually become easier. Corporate professionals can attend meetings, conferences, and events in multiple countries without the hassle of applying for different visas, allowing for smoother and more productive business engagements. Similarly, holidaymakers benefit from the streamlined process, as they can explore various tourist destinations across Europe with ease. The Schengen single-country visa significantly enhances leisure travel across the 27 Schengen nations by allowing tourists to move freely between member countries without the need for multiple visas. This seamless travel experience eliminates border checks and reduces administrative hassles, making it easier for holidaymakers to explore diverse cultural, historical, and natural attractions across Europe. The convenience of a single visa fosters longer and more extensive travel itineraries, encouraging tourists to visit multiple destinations within the Schengen Area, thus boosting tourism and economic growth in the region. Whether it’s a cultural tour in France, a historical exploration in Italy, or a beach holiday in Spain, the Schengen visa simplifies the travel experience, making it more accessible and enjoyable. By removing internal border controls, the Schengen Area ensures that travelers can move freely and conveniently between countries, enhancing the overall travel experience and promoting greater cultural exchange and economic integration across Europe​. In 2023, the Schengen nations collectively saw a substantial influx of tourists, reflecting a robust recovery in the travel industry. France remained the most visited country with 79.4 million tourists, while Spain followed with 71.66 million visitors. Italy attracted 49.81 million tourists, and Germany welcomed 40 million. Greece saw 30 million tourists, and Austria had approximately 32 million visitors. The Netherlands welcomed 21 million tourists, Portugal had around 24 million, and Poland saw 21.6 million visitors. Other Schengen nations also experienced significant tourist footfalls: Denmark with 12 million, Belgium with 11 million, and Switzerland with 11 million tourists. Sweden and Hungary attracted 13 million tourists each, while Norway welcomed 7 million. Finland and Slovenia each had 6 million visitors, and Slovakia saw 5 million. The Czech Republic had 10 million tourists, while Malta and Iceland welcomed 2.6 million and 2.3 million tourists, respectively. Estonia and Lithuania saw approximately 4 million and 2.5 million tourists each, and Latvia had around 2 million. Luxembourg attracted about 1 million tourists, and Liechtenstein saw around 100,000 visitors. This resurgence highlights the enduring appeal and resilience of the Schengen region as a premier destination for global travelers​

Mr. Anup Kumar Keshan, Editor-in-Chief of Travel And Tour World, states, “The whole world is opening up with the Schengen visa, providing unparalleled travel flexibility and convenience across Europe. We see a similar trend emerging in the ASEAN region, where countries are adopting comparable policies to facilitate easier travel and boost tourism. This trend towards regional visa agreements is transforming global travel, making it more accessible and integrated for holidaymakers, business travelers, and corporate professionals alike. In addition to ASEAN, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and several African nations are also moving towards similar regional visa policies. The GCC countries are working on implementing a unified visa system to boost tourism and business travel within the region. Likewise, the African Union has been promoting the African Passport and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), aiming to simplify travel and trade across African nations. These initiatives are modeled after the Schengen visa framework, aiming to enhance regional cooperation, economic integration, and tourism development.”

According to the UNWTO, international tourism in Europe is projected to recover fully to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024, with initial estimates indicating growth surpassing 2019 levels by 2%. In 2023, Europe saw approximately 1.3 billion international arrivals, reaching 88% of pre-pandemic levels due to increased air connectivity and pent-up travel demand. This surge is supported by the ease of travel provided by the Schengen visa, which harmonizes visa policies and border controls, reducing administrative burdens and making Europe an attractive destination.

The Schengen Visa

The Schengen visa allows travelers to enter any member country and move freely across the region for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This single visa is particularly beneficial for those on short-term visits, as it negates the need for separate visas for each country. The visa types include:

  • Airport Transit Visa (Type A): For those transiting through the international zone of an airport without entering the Schengen area.
  • Short-Term Visa (Type C): Allows travel across Schengen countries for up to 90 days. It can be issued for single, double, or multiple entries.
  • Limited Territorial Validity Visa (LTV): Allows travel only in the Schengen country that issued the visa or specific countries mentioned during the application.
  • National Long-Stay Visa (Type D): For longer stays due to work, study, or family reasons​.

The single Schengen visa facilitates seamless travel across 27 European countries, transforming what would typically be considered international travel into a near-domestic experience. With this visa, a person can travel from Paris to Berlin or from Rome to Amsterdam with minimal border checks, making the process swift and efficient. This convenience significantly reduces travel time and administrative hassles, allowing for quick and easy exploration of multiple countries. As a result, the Schengen visa enhances the travel experience, promoting greater mobility and cultural exchange across Europe. This integration not only benefits leisure travelers but also boosts business and corporate travel, contributing to the region’s economic growth.


With France with the maximum number of footfalls in 79.4 million tourists, here’s a comprehensive account of all the Schengen nations:

  1. Germany:
    • Approximately 40 million tourists.
  2. Austria:
    • Approximately 32 million tourists.
  3. Belgium:
    • Around 11 million tourists.
  4. Croatia:
    • More than 9 million tourists, a 12% increase compared to 2022.
  5. Czech Republic:
    • About 10 million tourists.
  6. Denmark:
    • Roughly 12 million tourists.
  7. Estonia:
    • Approximately 4 million tourists.
  8. Finland:
    • Around 6 million tourists.
  9. France:
    • France remains the most visited Schengen country with 79.4 million visitors.
  10. Greece:
    • Attracted 30 million tourists.
  11. Hungary:
    • Around 13 million tourists.
  12. Iceland:
    • Welcomed 2.3 million tourists.
  13. Italy:
    • Approximately 49.81 million tourists.
  14. Latvia:
    • Around 2 million tourists.
  15. Liechtenstein:
  16. Lithuania:
    • Welcomed 2.5 million tourists.
  17. Luxembourg:
    • Attracted about 1 million tourists.
  18. Malta:
    • Approximately 2.6 million tourists.
  19. Netherlands:
    • Welcomed 21 million tourists.
  20. Norway:
    • Roughly 7 million tourists.
  21. Poland:
    • Attracted 21.6 million tourists.
  22. Portugal:
    • Approximately 24 million tourists.
  23. Slovakia:
    • Around 5 million tourists.
  24. Slovenia:
    • Welcomed 6 million tourists.
  25. Spain:
    • Spain had 71.66 million visitors.
  26. Sweden:
    • Approximately 13 million tourists.
  27. Switzerland:
    • Welcomed 11 million tourists.

The Schengen visa has been a significant driver in the resurgence of Europe’s travel industry, simplifying travel logistics by allowing tourists, business travelers, and corporate professionals to move freely across 27 European countries without multiple visas.

GCC – Grand Tours Visa

The GCC, consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, is set to introduce the GCC Grand Tours visa. This unified visa will allow travelers to visit all member countries for up to 30 days without needing separate visas for each. Expected to be operational by the end of 2024, this initiative aims to attract international tourists and stimulate economic growth through increased tourism.

GCC Grand Tours Visa:

  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates

Southern Africa – KAZA Univisa

Southern Africa is enhancing its existing Univisa program to a broader Schengen-style visa. Currently valid for Zambia and Zimbabwe, the expansion will include Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, facilitating travel within the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area and promoting tourism to attractions like Victoria Falls.

KAZA Univisa Expansion:

  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Namibia
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Southeast Asia – ASEAN Visa

Southeast Asia is considering a Schengen-style visa for the ASEAN region, driven by Thailand. This visa would cover Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos, allowing tourists to travel freely between these countries with a single visa. The proposal aims to attract long-haul tourists and encourage extended stays across the region’s diverse cultural and natural landscapes.

ASEAN Visa (Proposed):

  • Thailand
  • Cambodia
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Vietnam
  • Laos

Countries like France, Spain, and Italy continue to be top destinations within the Schengen Area, each drawing millions of tourists annually. France, for instance, welcomed over 81 million international tourists, making it the most visited country in the world. Spain saw 56.7 million international visitors, while Italy attracted 46.1 million tourists.

The Schengen visa also supports various travel trends, including the rise of music tourism and the influence of social media on travel decisions. Events and festivals across Europe have led to significant spikes in travel bookings, demonstrating the economic impact of cultural and entertainment events on tourism.

Travel via Railways and Buses

Traveling across Schengen countries by train and bus is incredibly efficient and cost-effective, thanks to the visa and border policies.

  1. Rail Travel:
    • Trains traveling between Schengen countries do not stop for border checks, allowing for uninterrupted journeys. This efficiency is particularly beneficial for business travelers and tourists moving between cities like Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
    • On-board inspections replace border stops, streamlining the process further. This convenience encourages more eco-friendly travel options and reduces congestion at airports​​.
  2. Bus Travel:
    • Similar to rail travel, buses operating between Schengen countries do not encounter border checks. This ease of travel makes bus routes a popular choice for budget-conscious travelers and those exploring multiple destinations in one trip.
    • Coordinated schedules and seamless connections enhance the travel experience, making cross-border bus travel a viable alternative to flying​.

Traveling Across Schengen Nations via Railways with a Schengen Visa

How the Schengen Visa Facilitates Rail Travel

A Schengen visa allows travelers to move freely across 27 European countries within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This visa greatly simplifies the process of traveling between these countries by eliminating the need for border checks at internal borders, making rail travel particularly convenient.

Top Railways in Schengen Nations

1. TGV (France)

  • Operator: SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français)
  • Features: High-speed trains connecting major cities in France and extending to neighboring countries like Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, and Spain.
  • Notable Routes: Paris to Lyon, Paris to Marseille, and Paris to Brussels.

2. ICE (Germany)

  • Operator: Deutsche Bahn
  • Features: High-speed trains providing fast and comfortable travel across Germany and to neighboring countries like Austria, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands.
  • Notable Routes: Berlin to Munich, Frankfurt to Paris, and Hamburg to Zurich.

3. AVE (Spain)

  • Operator: Renfe
  • Features: High-speed trains offering fast travel between major Spanish cities and extending to France.
  • Notable Routes: Madrid to Barcelona, Madrid to Seville, and Madrid to Valencia.

4. Frecciarossa (Italy)

  • Operator: Trenitalia
  • Features: High-speed trains known for their speed and luxury, connecting major Italian cities and extending to France and Switzerland.
  • Notable Routes: Rome to Milan, Rome to Venice, and Milan to Turin.

5. Thalys (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands)

  • Operator: Thalys International
  • Features: High-speed trains connecting major cities in Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
  • Notable Routes: Paris to Brussels, Brussels to Amsterdam, and Paris to Cologne.

Benefits of Rail Travel in the Schengen Area

  1. No Border Checks:
    • Trains traveling between Schengen countries do not stop for border checks. This means that once you are within the Schengen Area, you can travel from one country to another without having to go through passport control at each border​​.
  2. Streamlined Travel:
    • On-board inspections: If necessary, passport or visa checks can be conducted by inspectors on the train itself during the journey, avoiding any stops or delays at borders​.
    • This convenience means that travelers can enjoy a seamless travel experience, moving easily between major European cities like Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Vienna.
  3. Efficient and Extensive Rail Network:
    • The Schengen Area boasts one of the world’s most comprehensive and efficient rail networks. High-speed trains like the Eurostar, Thalys, TGV, and ICE connect major cities across the region, making rail travel a fast and comfortable option.
    • Night trains and regional trains provide further flexibility, allowing travelers to cover long distances overnight or explore less accessible regions during the day​.

Advantages of the Schengen Visa

  1. Free Movement of People:
    • Travelers can move freely across Schengen countries without additional visa requirements, enhancing convenience for tourists and business travelers alike​.
    • The abolition of border checks within Schengen countries reduces travel time and costs, facilitating smoother and faster journeys​.
  2. Economic Benefits:
    • The elimination of internal borders has significantly boosted trade and tourism within the region. The common visa policy encourages more tourists and business engagements, contributing to the economic growth of member states​.
    • From 2013 to 2015, the removal of internal border controls generated an extra €110 billion for member economies.
  3. Social and Cultural Integration:
    • The free movement policy enhances cultural exchange and social integration. Citizens can study, work, and retire in any Schengen country, promoting mutual understanding among nations​.
  4. Security Enhancements:
    • Despite the lack of internal border checks, Schengen states collaborate on security through data sharing. The Schengen Information System (SIS) allows countries to store and share information on criminals, asylum seekers, and lost or stolen goods​.

Practical Tips for Rail Travel with a Schengen Visa

  1. Plan Your Journey:
    • Utilize rail planners and booking platforms such as Eurail, Rail Europe, or individual national railway services to plan your route and purchase tickets in advance.
    • Check train schedules, ticket prices, and travel times to optimize your journey across multiple countries.
  2. Travel Documentation:
    • While internal border checks are eliminated, it is still advisable to carry your passport and Schengen visa at all times. Inspectors may conduct random checks, and having your documents handy ensures a smooth journey​​.
  3. Local Transportation Connections:
    • Once you arrive at your destination, local public transport systems are usually well-integrated with the main railway stations, providing easy connections to hotels, tourist attractions, and business centers.
  4. Booking Tips:
    • Consider booking flexible tickets if your travel plans are not fixed, as this provides the freedom to change your itinerary as needed.
    • Look for rail passes like the Eurail Pass, which offer unlimited travel on certain routes for a specified period, often at a discounted rate for non-European residents.

The Schengen visa and the associated policies of free movement significantly simplify travel across Europe, benefiting holidaymakers, business travelers, and corporate professionals. The abolition of internal borders, coupled with efficient rail and bus networks, enhances the overall travel experience while boosting economic and cultural ties among member countries. This unified approach not only facilitates easier and faster travel but also strengthens regional integration and security.

Top Hotels in Schengen Nations

1. The Ritz Paris (France)

  • Location: Paris, France
  • Features: Iconic luxury hotel offering opulent rooms, fine dining, and a world-renowned spa.

2. Hotel Sacher (Austria)

  • Location: Vienna, Austria
  • Features: Historic luxury hotel known for its elegant rooms, gourmet restaurants, and the famous Sachertorte.

3. The Dolder Grand (Switzerland)

  • Location: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Features: Luxury hotel offering stunning views, luxurious rooms, a spa, and fine dining.

4. Hotel de Russie (Italy)

  • Location: Rome, Italy
  • Features: Luxury hotel known for its elegant design, beautiful gardens, and central location near the Spanish Steps.

5. Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (Switzerland)

  • Location: St. Moritz, Switzerland
  • Features: Iconic luxury hotel with a long history, offering opulent rooms, a spa, and winter sports facilities.

6. Four Seasons Hotel George V (France)

  • Location: Paris, France
  • Features: Luxury hotel with opulent decor, renowned dining, and a prime location near the Champs-Élysées.

7. Mandarin Oriental (Spain)

  • Location: Barcelona, Spain
  • Features: Luxury hotel with modern design, fine dining, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views.

These railways and hotels exemplify the high standards of comfort, efficiency, and luxury found in the Schengen Area, making travel within these countries both seamless and enjoyable.

Popular Cruise Lines and Itineraries in the Schengen Area

  1. MSC Cruises:
    • Offers extensive itineraries covering multiple Schengen countries, including stops in Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. MSC Cruises are known for their luxurious amenities and diverse range of activities, catering to both leisure and business travelers.
  2. Royal Caribbean International:
    • Provides cruises that visit key Schengen ports such as Barcelona, Marseille, and Venice. Royal Caribbean is popular for its innovative ships and extensive onboard entertainment options, making it a top choice for holidaymakers and corporate events.
  3. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL):
    • NCL’s European cruises include destinations like Lisbon, Rome, and Amsterdam. The line offers flexible dining options and a relaxed atmosphere, appealing to a wide range of travelers.
  4. Costa Cruises:
    • A quintessentially European cruise line, Costa Cruises offers itineraries that explore the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, and the Baltic seas, visiting multiple Schengen countries. Known for its Italian flair, Costa Cruises provides a unique cultural experience.
  5. Celebrity Cruises:
    • Known for its upscale amenities and sophisticated ambiance, Celebrity Cruises offers routes that include Schengen destinations such as Santorini, Athens, and Dubrovnik. This line is ideal for luxury travelers and corporate retreats.
  6. Holland America Line:
    • Offers in-depth explorations of the European coastline with stops in cities like Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Tallinn. Holland America is renowned for its mid-sized ships and focus on cultural enrichment.

Practical Tips for Cruise Travel with a Schengen Visa

  • Documentation:
    • Ensure your Schengen visa is valid for the entire duration of your cruise. Keep your passport and visa readily accessible, as some ports may still require verification.
  • Itinerary Planning:
    • Check the specific visa requirements of each Schengen country included in your itinerary. While the Schengen visa covers most situations, certain special territories or regions might have additional requirements.
  • Onboard Services:
    • Take advantage of the onboard concierge services offered by most cruise lines. They can assist with local information, transportation arrangements, and any necessary documentation updates.

10-Day Travel Itinerary Across Schengen Nations

Day 1-2: Paris, France

  • Arrival in Paris: Start your journey in the City of Light. Visit iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral.
  • Experience French Cuisine: Enjoy a dinner cruise on the Seine River or dine at a classic Parisian café.

Day 3-4: Brussels, Belgium

  • Travel to Brussels: Take a high-speed train from Paris to Brussels (approx. 1.5 hours).
  • Explore Brussels: Visit the Grand Place, Atomium, and Manneken Pis. Don’t miss tasting Belgian waffles and chocolates.

Day 5: Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Train to Amsterdam: A short train ride from Brussels to Amsterdam (approx. 2 hours).
  • Sightseeing in Amsterdam: Explore the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, and take a canal cruise to see the city from a different perspective.

Day 6-7: Berlin, Germany

  • Travel to Berlin: Take a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Berlin (approx. 6 hours).
  • Discover Berlin: Visit historical sites like the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, and the Reichstag Building. Explore the vibrant neighborhoods and local cuisine.

Day 8: Prague, Czech Republic

  • Travel to Prague: Take a train or a short flight from Berlin to Prague (approx. 4 hours by train).
  • Explore Prague: Wander through the Old Town Square, visit Prague Castle, and stroll across the Charles Bridge.

Day 9: Vienna, Austria

  • Train to Vienna: Take a direct train from Prague to Vienna (approx. 4 hours).
  • Vienna Highlights: Visit Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and enjoy a performance at the Vienna State Opera.

Day 10: Budapest, Hungary

  • Travel to Budapest: Take a train from Vienna to Budapest (approx. 2.5 hours).
  • Discover Budapest: Relax in the thermal baths, visit Buda Castle, and explore the historic streets of the city. End your trip with a scenic cruise on the Danube River.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *