Gifting Travel Update #1
It’s been just over a month since we launched Gifting Travel and it’s already been a wild ride. We’re learning a lot and really, truly appreciate all of the support from you, our Collective, so far!
Next up on our Gifting Travel checklist is Fatima’s application for a tourist visa to Spain. To be honest, this particular part of the process has been the most eye-opening step so far for our team in Vancouver. As we continue to work through the visa process with Fatima, we’ve realized that we were somewhat naïve to the fact that obtaining a tourist visa with a passport other than a Canadian one is not as easy as we, all Canadians, anticipated.
According to the website TravelFreedom, a Moroccan passport holder can enter 59 countries without a visa but requires a visa for 155 countries. Canadian passport holders, on the other hand, can enter 172 countries visa-free and only require visas for 41 countries. The Moroccan passport is ranked 69thin the world in terms of the number of destinations its holders can visit with various kinds of supporting documents, if any. Conversely, Canada comes in at 5th; this means, of course, that it’s considerably easier to travel as a Canadian than as a Moroccan. While this might seem obvious to some readers, the extent to which this is true is becoming clearer as we make progress with Gifting Travel.
In order to obtain a tourist visa for Spain, specifically, Fatima needs to submit her application in person to the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in Morocco up to eight weeks before her departure date. In addition to the visa application form, she’s also required to: obtain medical insurance that includes international coverage; provide a cover letter explaining, in detail, the purpose of her visit; prove that she has a return trip to Morocco booked; and provide a travel itinerary and proof of hotel for the entire duration of her stay. According to the Spanish government website, a foreigner may also be required to demonstrate that they have sufficient means of financial support (i.e. money in their bank account) in order to enter Spain. While the members of Team TC who accompany Fatima on her trip will certainly have to meet some requirements as well, they’re not nearly as stringent—or as personal—as the extensive list outlined above.
All of this is to say that we, as Canadians (even relatively well-travelled ones), weren’t fully aware of these particular challenges when we launched Gifting Travel. We anticipated stumbling blocks, sure, and knew that there were risks associated with offering someone from an unfamiliar country a trip to another, potentially equally unfamiliar, country, but the particular nature and degree of these risks is something we’re learning as we go. The biggest risk at this point in the journey is that Fatima could apply, and pay, for a visa and then be denied. If she couldn’t obtain a visa, Fatima couldn’t go to Barcelona.
Of course, all is not lost! In fact, we remain quite confident that Fatima’s application will go through and we’re really excited about the progress we’ve made together thus far :). We’ll continue to keep our Collective up to speed and update the timeline accordingly. Stay tuned, and thank you again for following along on our journey with Fatima!