Kosovo recorded the highest number of Schengen visa applications per capita, according to a recent report by Schengen Statistics. For every 100,000 Kosovars, 6,881 applied for visas. This also means that every 2,126th person in the 1.7 million-populated country applied for said visa.
The Schengen area is the largest visa-free region worldwide, where tourists with approved visas can travel across 26 countries, including France, Italy, and Spain.
Following closely behind Kosovars are nationals from Kuwait and Qatar, which are both Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
Schengen Statistics data show that 3,426 Kuwaitis and 2,939 Qataris applied for visas for every 100,000 inhabitants. This further implies that every 29th person in Kuwait and every 34th in Qatar filed an application to Schengen consulates.
According to the European Commission, Schengen Associated Countries received more than 7.5 million applications for short-stay visas in 2022. This is a 258% increase compared to 2021 (2.9 million). However, it is still lower than the number of applications in 2019 (17 million). The COVID-19 pandemic had significant effects on the demand for Schengen visa applications worldwide, with 2.4 million visas being issued in 2021, compared to 5.9 million in 2022 and 15 million in 2019.
Other GCC countries in the top 10
Apart from Kuwait and Qatar, other GCC countries made it to the top ten in terms of per capita visa applications. These include the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.
UAE ranked seventh, with 1,967 applying for visas for every 100,000 residents. Out of its 9.5 million inhabitants, every 51st person submitted a visa application.
Meanwhile, Bahrain occupied the 10th spot. For every 100,000 inhabitants, 1,307 submitted visa applications, indicating that every 76th Bahrain national filed a visa application.
Completing the list are Cape Verde, Suriname, Armenia, Lebanon, and Tunisia.
Cape Verde, which ranked fourth, reported 2,935 visa applicants per 100,000 inhabitants, equating to approximately every 34th person in the African country submitting a visa application. Meanwhile, Suriname and Armenia held the fifth and sixth spots, with 2,726 and 2,232 per 100,000 nationals applying for visas, respectively.
Lebanon and Tunisia followed, with 1,853 and 1,351 applications for every 100,000 residents. This signifies that every 54th Lebanese and 74th Tunisian pursued a Schengen visa.
Among the top ten, only Cape Verde, Suriname, and Armenia are the territories whose population is not dominated by Muslims.
Highest number of applications
Türkiye, Russia, and India topped the list in terms of the sheer number of applications. In 2022, there were 778,509 Turks, 687,239 Russians, and 671,928 Indians who filed applications.
Per-capita leader Kosovo had 121,972 applicants for the past year, putting the Southeast European country in the 18th spot of this particular ranking.
Looking at GCC countries, Saudi Arabia leads, ranking sixth overall with 357,764 visa applications recorded. UAE occupied the ninth spot, posting 187,196 applications in total.
Meanwhile, Kuwait and Qatar submitted 147,694 and 79,859 visa applications, earning them the 14th and 24th positions, respectively. Oman, who had 30,885 applications, ranked 42nd.
Schengen-style visa for GCC nations
In an attempt to further make the countries comprising the GCC more appealing to travelers, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE have also been planning to launch a Schengen-style visa.
Fatima Al Sairafi, Bahrain’s minister of tourism, revealed the plan earlier in May at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) held in Dubai.
“We anticipate this becoming a reality in the near future, as we’ve observed that individuals traveling from overseas to Europe often explore multiple countries rather than confining themselves to one. We recognize the collective benefits this initiative can bring to all of us, rather than just individual countries,” stated Al Sairafi.
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