MANILA – Italy has opened its new visa center in Taguig City as demand for travel to Europe grows.
The VFS Global Italy Visa Application Center, which started its operations on Dec. 1, is located at the One Campus Place at McKinley Hill, Taguig City.
During its official inauguration on Thursday, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Marco Clemente said the Taguig office is in addition to three other visa application centers established in Cebu, Batangas, and Davao.
“Philippines is a key source of tourism and business market for Italy and we are taking every possible measure to ease and streamline processes for travelers,” he said.
“The establishment of these new centers is an important step towards this strategy to further develop our bilateral relations. Applicants in the Philippines will now be able to apply for Italy visa in four key cities, from two earlier, helping them save their time and cost of travel,” he added.
Clemente said its partnership with VFS Global would further ease and streamline visa application submission process.
VFS Global Australasia head Kaushik Ghosh said the visa centers in the Philippines will play a crucial role in effectively catering to the growing demand for travel to Italy, one of the most popular destinations in the world.
”We are confident that these visa application centers will enhance customer experience by making the visa application process even more smooth and seamless, thereby helping us serve travelers better,” he said.
He said the Italian visa center in Taguig can process 500 visas a day and accommodate more than 100,000 submissions, annually.
Applicants may set a visa appointment via its website https://visa.vfsglobal.com/phl/en/ita/.
Walk-ins are allowed but only upon availing of the “premium lounge,” with a charge of about PHP2,500.
The three other Italian visa centers are located at Kepwealth Center Samar Loop (Cebu City); Unit F01, Block J, The Outlets at Lipa, LIMA Technology Center (Batangas), and FES 07, Felcris Centrale (Davao City).
In a separate interview, Clemente said the Italian Embassy in Manila is closely working with the Department of Tourism to boost two-way travel between the two countries.
Given that Italy is already a popular tourist destination, the envoy hoped to attract more Filipino businessmen to the country and see a direct flight soon.
“There is a very important step to be taken -- a direct flight between Manila and Rome,” he said, adding there is a “political interest” on the part of Italy to establish one.
“There are almost 200,000 Filipinos living in Italy, and there are millions of possible potential tourists, Filipino tourists to Italy. From a business point of view, I think it’s more than viable,” he noted.
The Italian Embassy issued more than 35,000 visas since January 2023, already surpassing the 2022 figures of around 22,000.
Of the 2023 figure, at least 30 percent are seafarers while the majority are tourists and businesses, Clemente said.
As revenge travel continues after the pandemic, the embassy targets to issue more than 50,000 visas next year. (PNA)