On the wrong side of the border
In late 2007, eight new countries joined the Schengen zone. The border of the zone moved all the way to Ukraine and it seemed that the step will make travelling easier for everybody. I remember what it was like to go through Heathrow airport with a non-EU passport AND can compare how much smoother it is as a citizen of EU now. The difference is big and positive. That’s why, after the enlargement of Schengen, I was happy for the people who I expected to benefit from the change most. The non-EUs. Turns out, my joy was premature.
From what I read and understood, if for example a Ukrainian tourist decides to go to Germany and then to Czech Republic and then drive back through Slovakia, he or she should now only need to apply for one visa – a Schengen visa. Choose the country where you will go first and apply for a visa there. As long as you start your trip in that destination, you can continue to another Schengen country without any other documents and applications. Yes, that is the tempting theory.
Unfortunately, the fear of immigration of all lowlifes the East has to offer seems to have won over the advantage of a more dynamic growth in tourism. The article below comes from the news portal of the Uzhgorod region. Not only I think the described complications are caused by prejudice, I actually think they should be considered illegal because they are discriminating. It is disappointing to see a good idea, which the Schengen Agreement is, turn this contraproductive.
Russian and Ukrainian tourists are not welcome in Slovakia
The Slovak newspaper „SME“ has published an article called „Golden week, golden Ukrainians“. The key message of the article: With the entry of Slovakia to the Schengen zone, the number of Ukrainian and Russian tourists in the Tatra mountains in Slovakia has dropped.
The authors ascribe the lower number of tourists from Russia and Ukraine to more complicated procedures at the Slovak consulates in Kiev and Moscow.
There were times when Russians and Ukrainians represented 95% of tourists in the Tatra mountains during the holiday weeks of December and January. That changed rapidly in 2008. Hotel owners and travel agents suffered losses and claim that if the visa application process won’t become faster, Ukrainian and Russian tourists will start going elsewhere, for example to Bulgaria and Romania.
Compared to 2007, it takes 9 more days now before a visa is issued and many applicants had to make repeated visits to the consulate. „We like Tatra mountains but it seems we are not welcome there anymore,“ says a young tourist from Kiev.
Russians and Ukrainians actually made the „Golden week“ in Tatra mountains last two weeks (up to 12th of January). „But whether golden week will actually be golden is a big questionmark,“ comments the SME newspaper.