National Apprenticeship Awards
I have developed and discovered a variety of different skills and seen many personal benefits. From my graphic design work and charity fundraising to the email marketing campaigns and social media optimisation I have carried out.
Since I have been a Social Media and Marketing Apprentice with The Travel Visa Company, I have seen my knowledge increase massively, gaining an in-depth knowledge about:
However, my learning didn’t just come from studying for my level 3 diploma. Working as part of a busy team has allowed me to grow and develop many skills. Being part of weekly meetings within the organisation, as well as arranging and attending meetings with clients and dealing with customers, has boosted my confidence. This has given me the ability to act and conduct myself in a professional manner.
One of my biggest achievements has been designing and creating my first website: ‘coverworks.com’. Seeing the results of my work and learning coming together into one project is an incredibly rewarding feeling especially as prior to my apprenticeship, I had no knowledge about how websites work. I believe that this shows the opportunities that being part of an apprenticeship scheme in a growing business can bring.
You don’t just learn from reading text books and sitting exams, practical experience brings with it new ways to gain knowledge.
While working for The Travel Visa Company I took part in my first ever organised run – The Great Manchester Run. With the support of my friends, family and colleagues, I was able to raise £360.00 and complete the run with a time of 01:00:17.
Mardi Gras: the colourful winter carnival celebrated in cities all across the world. Bringing in huge crowds, delicious feasts, parades, parties and more. Here are the 5 of the greatest countries to celebrate Mardi Gras:
The Goa Carnival showcases the free, harmonious spirit that makes this Portuguese carnival so legendary. Beautiful floats covered in flowers and graceful dancers manoeuvre their way through the streets of Panjim to traditional the folk songs and strumming of guitars.
Mindelo, Cape Verde
Just off the coast of Senegal, the lush Cape Verde islands host a curious mix of Carnival traditions in the run-up to the fast. In the handsome town of Mindelo, jerry-built floats and curvy dancers sway to Creole coladeira punctuated by ululating African shrieks.
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
If you want to celebrate Mardi Gras by the pristine, exotic beaches of the Caribbean then Trinidad & Tobago is for you. Follow the sounds of the steel pan band as they lead the newly crowned Carnival King and Queen, dressed in dramatic, embellished costumes. The crowds that follow these parades are notoriously passionate, so much so that it can be hard to see where the performers stop and the crowd begin; so dress up, dance and join the party. Brace yourself for all-night parties and raucous steel-pan music. Two days before Ash Wednesday, paint, oil, and melted chocolate fly during the mas (masquerade) parades.
Rio de Janeiro
Arguably one of the most famous pre-Lent celebrations, the Rio Carnival draws millions of people to the city for one big samba party. Thousands of performers dance on decorated floats and compete in one of seven divisions for their choice of music, costume and themes. With dancers training all year for the festivities, you know they mean business and that it’ll be the show of a lifetime.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Beginning with a masked ball on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, celebrations build to fever pitch during five days of pre-Lenten parties.
Embrace the chaos and be seduced by the spirit of Carnival. Enjoy lavish parades, masquerade balls and the unforgettable atmosphere of Mardi Gras. It’s said that the first parade float was created by a society of wealthy men called the Mistick Krewe of Comus. From this day, different secret societies, or ‘Krewes’, join the party with their own floats, colours and costumes. One to look out for is the Krewe of Rex, who wear traditional gold, purple and green colours. Newer Krewes like Bacchus, Endymion and Zulu opt for glitz with celebrity appearances, marching bands and more than 1,000 riders.
For that someone special
Maybe you are the type of person who likes to spoil their their significant other? Maybe your looking for an excuse to take your loved one on the holiday of their dreams? Or maybe, as a nice gesture, you just want to be able to spend some time with the person you love. If so, why not treat your other half to a trip out to one of these 6 romantic destinations to this Valentines Day.
6. Sānyà, China
Diverse in it’s culture, ethics, religion, architecture and cuisine, China offers some of the most amazing and romantic scenery in the world.
Sānyà offers 40 kilometres of pristine coastline partnered with a bustling city centre next to a long stretch of beaches and hotels. Being situated in the Hainan Province gives Sānyà the tropical monsoon climate it’s known for. Sanya is a noted tourist resort with incredible scenery. Mountains, rivers, beaches and the best seaview in the country, this is a place to spoil your loved one.
If you are a couple that like exploring somewhere new together, Hawaii may be the place for you! Described as a ‘place like no other on earth’, the white sandy beaches, colossal mountain ranges and beautiful nature reserves make Hawaii the incredible place that it is.
There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island each with its own distinct personality.
India may not be the first place you think of when it comes to romance, but India is a place deep with culture and heritage that is guaranteed to move you and your partner.
Goa, Andaman, Agra are all destinations (amongst others) that are great to visit for celebrations! Find a somewhere to join the party or spend quiet romantic time with your lover, this place will cater to all your needs.
3. New York City
Share a kiss at the top of the Empire State Building. The breathtaking views over the city that never sleeps makes this spot for ideal for a romantic date. But if you’re looking to take it one step further, splash out and spoil your significant other by taking them on a helicopter tour of the city!
If you both prefer a more relaxed approach to spending Valentines Day, you should look into exploring the many art museums and galleries dotted around NYC.
A valentines trip to New York City would not be complete without a lazy walk around Central Park – But don’t forget to wrap up warm as you may only experience highs of 4°C. So, if the being out in the cold isn’t your thing, you can check out some of the botanical gardens that New York has to offer.
If you’re ready to brave the outdoors, then why not try out one of the most romantic wintertime traditions in the city – ice skating! Watch the ice-skaters at the Rockefeller Center rink, or tie on a pair of skates yourself.
A romantic trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a Gondola ride through the city. This is a great way to get around and to take in the landscape.
Enjoy the ballet or opera the Theatre La Fenice one of “the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre”.
If you happen to find yourself in St Mark’s Square, head over to the Campanile bell tower which is perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable symbols of Venice. At the top, you can enjoy spectacular views across the canals and roofs of the city. It’s open until the sunsets throughout the year, making for a very romantic evening with your significant other.
Commonly known as the city of love. Paris has to be one the most romantic cities in the world. The world famous love lock bridge can be found in Paris, close to the Notre-Dame. Here, lovers from all over the world attached a lock engraved with a special message to the bridge.
On an island in the middle of a lake in the Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in the city, you can find the “Temple of Love”. A less well-known landmark in Paris, visiting the Temple of Love (also known as the Temple Romantique) means you won’t be sharing your romantic moment with dozens of other couples trying to do the same.
Take a stroll down the River Siene admiring the boutique houseboats as you go. Below street level of the Quai des Tuileries, you will be able to find peace and comfort away from the crowds of people.
Take in the view of the Eiffel Tower. A popular place for marriage proposals, the sweeping panoramic views of the city make it so perfectly romantic. But if you really want to go all out, make sure you take your loved one to view the Eiffel Tower at night. The 324m Parisian icon lights up the nights sky with a sparkly light show that will leave you lost for words.
Find out your visa requirements on: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk
*It is important to note that there are many different contributing factors that can lead to the visa being granted. These factors may vary depending on the visitors nationality, country they are travelling to and type of visa they require (e.g. business, tourist, media, student visa…)
An Invitation Letter is a document used to show the reason for the visitor travelling to that particular country. It should be addressed to the consulate (or embassy) of the country you are travelling to. An invitation letter does not guarantee that the visitor will be issued a visa, but it does however help the Visa Officers assess whether you abide by the countries immigration laws.
It would be preferable to type and print your invitation letter but handwritten invitations may be accepted by some embassies. The invitation letter must be on the headed paper of the inviting company and must at least include:
- The relationship between the visitor and the inviter
- Relevant dates of travel & length of stay (arrival dates / departure dates)
- Passport information (given names, passport number, nationality, issue & expiry date, DOB)
- Purpose of travel
- Who will be funding the visit
- Signature of the inviter
Some countries may require further details or for the letter to be officially stamped by the inviting company/organisation.
Working on a tourist visa
Working on a tourist visa is prohibited, even when volunteering.
If you are travelling abroad to work, you will need to apply for a work permit/visa. This grants you permission to work in the country.
However, some countries only offer travellers the option to apply for a tourist visa. In these cases you will have to travel on a tourist visa, once there, you (or your perspective employer) can then apply for the relevant visa/permit allowing you to work.
Business visa or work permit?
If you are being employed by a company in a foreign country and they are paying you to work in that country, then you will need to apply for a work permit.
If you are travelling to attend a business meeting/conference or consult with business associates, you will need a business visa.
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen visa is not required for British passport holders – All Schengen zone member countries do not require a visa to enter the Schengen zone along with 43 other countries – contact The Travel Visa Company for further information regarding the countries exempt from requiring a Schengen visa. Once obtained, a Schengen visa allows the visitor to travel between 26 different countries that are part of the Schengen area (also known as the Schengen zone).
When applying for a Schengen visa, the traveller will need to apply to the country that they visit first, or to the country that they will be staying in for the longest period of time.
The Schengen visa allows the holder to stay a total of up to 90 days within a period of 6 months for tourist or business purposes. If you get a multiple entry Schengen visa, you may leave and return any number of times within the 180-day period, but the combined stay within the region must not total more than 90 days.
How long can I stay on a business visa?
Business visas can range in validity; for a validity of 1 month up to 5 years. You will find that different countries have different lengths of validity on their business visas. With some business visas, you may be able to apply to extend the period of stay.
If you have anymore queries about any of the topics we have just covered, or if you have any other travel visa related questions, feel free to call our friendly team on 01270 250 590
Want to learn more about the different types of visa that are out there? Check out our recent blog: Get To Know Your Visas.
How long does it take to process my Chinese visa application?
When applying for either your Chinese tourist visa or your Chinese business visa, you can choose from three different service levels* with us:
- Priority 1: 3 working days
- Priority 2: 7 working days
- Priority 3: 10 working days
*Working days excluding postal days.
Can I travel on an Indian e-Tourist Visa (eTV) for business meetings?
Yes. If you are travelling to India for business meetings, you can apply for an e-Tourist Visa (eTV).
When filling out the application, simply state your required type of visa as ‘business’ and purpose of travel as ‘business meetings’. This type of visa is applicable for those who wish to fly into India for stays of less than 30 days.
For stays of longer than 30 days, a full Indian visa is required.
What size photo do I need for India?
A standard visa photo needs to be: 2 by 2 inches or 5 by 5 cm
What is a Transit Visa?
This type of visa is valid for travellers who do not wish to stay in the country, but only to pass through it. The visa is temporary and only valid for a short period of time. Some countries require that you have a stop over of 24 hours minimum to grant you a transit visa. But, others provide a transit visa for a stop over as small as 4 hours.
What is an electronic travel visa?
Electronic visas come in a number of different formats (ESTA/ETA/e-Visa). These visas do not require you to submit your passport as they are electronically linked to your passport number through an online system. You can read more on one of our other blog posts.
When I have my passport photo taken, can I wear glasses?
You can wear glasses when having your passport/visa photograph taken. However, you cannot wear tinted glasses or sunglasses. The glasses can only be worn if they do not obstruct your eyes in the photograph.
Can I get a single entry visa for China?
You can now, only, apply for a multiple entry visa when travelling to China. This applies to both business and tourism purposes and will be valid for two years.
What is an e-Passport?
An e-passport (also referred to as a biometric passport) contains an electronic chip. The chip holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page: the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information. Electronic visas can be applied to the passport without the need for any physical documentation.
I am travelling to, and will be staying in, America for more than 3 months, Can I get an ESTA?
Unfortunately not. American ESTA’s are valid for 12 months (this applies to travellers going to America for both business and tourism purposes) but you may only stay for 90 days at a time. For stays of over 3 months, you will need to apply for a full visa.
Can I go on a cruise with and Indian e-Tourist Visa?
Unfortunately not. If, during your cruise, you will be stopping in India: You will have to apply for a Full Indian Tourist Visa.
What is a working holiday visa?
A working holiday visa is for more casual work while you travel, e.g. for someone who is backpacking through Australia and picks up part time job to help keep their funds up while in Australia. Countries that offer a working holiday to British passport holders include: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan.
Can I travel on an Australian ETA for business meetings?
Yes. As long as you do not intend to stay in the country longer than three months, you can take part in conventions and conferences as well as meetings whilst in Australia. However, this visa is not intended for work purposes. If you take employment while in Australia on an ETA visa, you will be contravening the conditions of the visa.
Can I change to another visa while in Australia?
No. You cannot change visa types while onshore in Australia, you may only apply to extend your visa. If you are interested in applying for a permanent visa or another temporary visa, such as a Working Holiday Visa, the application must be made in the UK.
*It is important to note that there are many different contributing factors that can lead to the visa being granted. These factors may vary depending on the visitors nationality, country they are travelling to and type of visa they require (e.g. business, tourist, media, student visa…)
Please note: The information provided in this blog post is correct at the time of publishing.Visa requirements can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information, call us or visit our website.
India Tourism Day
Wednesday the 25th of January marks India’s National Tourism Day, a day to raise awareness about the importance of tourism to the country and its economy.
India is a vast and beautiful country filled with all manner of things to do and places to see. It comes as no surprise that people from all over the world travel there for the culture, heritage, nature, education, business opportunities, sporting events, and more.
Tourism in India continued to expand in 2016, with a double-digit increase in international visitor arrivals.
Let’s talk statistics…
Since the introduction of the e-Tourist visa, India has seen a huge growth in foreign arrivals with numbers almost doubling compared to 2015. According to data released by India’s Ministry of Tourism, the country welcomed a total of 8.89 million international visitors in 2016, up 10.7% compared to 2015.
1.08 million e-Tourist Visas were issued at Indian Airports in 2016.
Introduced in 2015, the e-Tourist Visa scheme has seen massive growth after its initial success. As a result, the Indian government decided to expand the e-Tourist Scheme to 113 countries and territories and made available at 16 Indian airports.
Accounting for approximately 12% of total arrivals. The system is now in place for the citizens of 161 countries.
How can we help?
The Travel Visa Company is an award winning visa procurement agency and we are proud to be one of the fastest growing travel visa companies in the UK. We offer a six stage service:
- Consultation & Application
- Quality Control
- Logistics Management
- Embassy Submission
- Collection & Confirmation
- Final Check & Dispatch
To find out more about the services we offer, or want to get in touch, follow our social media channels…
New Year Thoughts and Reflections
As is tradition, we take this time to look back and reflect on the year and set plans and goals for the next. For a list of some of the top travel destinations for bringing in the new year, see our post from last year.
2016 was very well known for the long list of icons we sadly lost including Terry Wogan, Prince, David Bowie, Mohammed Ali, Victoria Wood, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Alongside this we saw Brexit, Trump winning the US Election, the exploding Samsung phones and Bake-off leaving the BBC. Aside from all that we still had many positive stories such as Leicester City winning the Premier League, celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday and our Olympic and Paralympic teams bringing home a record number of medals from Rio. Here are some of the highlights of our year here at The Travel Visa Company:
Taking a look back at 2016
Following last year’s success at the Business Travel Show, we teamed up with MPI Brokers in February to exhibit again with a newly designed stand. We thoroughly enjoyed the two days and met a whole host of new business contacts and were able to showcase our newest product offerings. Read our blog about the event to learn more about Europe’s leading exhibition and conference dedicated to Corporate Travel.
We also attended a number of events for ITT Future You who run days at many universities across the UK to share knowledge about the travel industry to aspiring students. We were delighted to offer advice and support to the hundreds of young people who are no doubt the future of travel. Some of the key areas we spoke about were Apprenticeship opportunities, teaching/studying abroad and sharing our knowledge of the various different types of visas and entry requirements for countries worldwide.
For 2016 our chosen charity was the Family Holiday Association to support their 500 for 500 campaign. This set us a £500 target and we had ambitious plans to raise this amount. After a lot of planning, on 20th July we did a non-stop 24hr Around The World cycle in partnership with STUDIO 4ORCE Personal Training. It was a great success and everyone involved thoroughly enjoyed taking part – our grand total for the year was £812.50!
We have a strong focus on researching and developing new services for our clients and customers. There have been many changes to the entry requirements in 2016 and we have been at the forefront in keeping up with the new application systems and travel visas. Our comprehensive portfolio of media visa services have expanded to cover even more countries, travellers can apply with us for their new Canadian ETA, we support a number of tour operators and travel agents in obtaining Cuban Tourist Cards and have partnered with a number of companies to branch out into other essential travel services. Masta can provide our customers with expert advice about health requirements, those who would like added protection can sign-up with ConsularAssist for round-the-clock assistance worldwide and business travellers can obtain their ATA Carnets to cover their equipment for travel.
After winning the award for Excellence in Customer Service last year, we were excited to be up for another award this in 2016. This was a bit different to our usual nominations as it was for one particular individual in our team – our Social Media and Marketing apprentice James Healy. The hard work and effort he put in during the past year on his course really paid off and we were delighted to hear his name announced as Apprentice of the Year at the South Cheshire Chamber Awards. He is now working towards a higher-level degree apprenticeship and continues to be a role-model for our future apprentices. As well as winning an award, we were keen to support the chamber and sponsored the Exporter of the Year award. Read more about the event here or watch the highlights from the evening.
Our review of the year wouldn’t be complete without celebrating the new arrivals in our company. Not just our new staff members but also the new additions outside the office. Our Managing Director and Head of Sales both became first-time grandparents and our Operations Manager is now a very proud mother. Congratulations!
Plans for 2017
After a hugely successful 2015, we had ambitious goals and our hard working staff have achieved some incredible results. The past year is another testament to our team – continuing to win awards, surpassing our fundraising targets and continuing to be one of the UKs fastest growing travel visa agencies. Some of our main aims for the year ahead is to work on re-designing our application packs to improve usability, continue the development of our website for use on mobiles and tablets, developing new services and to continue expanding our team. We also plan to focus on smaller business events in our local community and, once again, raise as much as we can for charity.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support as we look forward to the next 12 months.
Happy New Year from The Travel Visa Company!
Here are the embassy & consulate closures across the UK:
|Embassy / Consulate||Date of Closure|
|Algeria||December 27th, 31st & January 1st|
|Angola||December 19th – January 5th|
|Azerbaijan||December 26th, 27th & January 2nd, 3rd, 4th|
|Belarus||December 21st, 28th & January 4th|
|Bangladesh||December 26th, 27th & January 1st|
|Bulgaria||December 26th, 27th, 30th|
|Canada||December 26th, 27th & January 1st, 2nd|
|China||December 26th, 27th & January 2nd|
|Congo||December 23rd – January 4th|
|Cuba||December 23rd – 28th & December 30th – January 2nd|
|Ethiopia||December 25th – 27th & January 1st, 2nd|
|Ghana||December 23rd – 28th & January 1st, 2nd|
|India||December 25th, 26th & January 1st|
|Indonesia||December 23rd – 28th|
|Japan||December 28th – January 3rd|
|Liberia||December 18th – January 3rd|
|Malaysia||December 25th – 27th & January 1st, 2nd|
|Myanmar||December 26th, 27th & 29th|
|New Zealand||December 22nd – January 3rd|
|Nigeria||December 25th, 26th & January 1st|
|Oman||December 23th – January 3rd|
|Pakistan||December 25th – 27th & January 1st|
|Papua New Guinea||December 22nd – January 3rd|
|Phillipines||December 23rd – 29th|
|Singapore||December 25th, 26th & January 1st|
|Saudi Arabia||December 26th – January 3rd|
|Thailand||December 25th, 26th & January 2nd, 3rd|
|Tanzania||December 23rd – January 3rd|
|Uganda||December 16th – January 2nd|
|Vietnam||December 26th, 27th & January 2nd|
|Zambia||December 25th & January 1st|
|Zimbabwe||December 23rd – January 2nd|
To find out weekly embassy and consulate closures along with more travel visa related information and updates: subscribe to our newsletter.
Thailand Tourist Visa Fee Exemptions.
Thailand has launched two new temporary tourist visa schemes:
- All applicants applying for the Tourist Visa (Single Entry) will be exempted from the visa fee.
- The visa on arrival fee will also be decreased from 2,000 to 1,000 Thai Baht (฿)
These schemes are in place from 1st December 2016 until 28th February 2017.
Shop till you drop
With billions of people from over 160 countries around the world celebrating Christmas, purchasing the gifts that will make your loved ones face light up can be one of the most important parts of the festive season! There is a huge selection of stores, shops and outlets around the world …so here are some of the best places that you should be visiting for this years Christmas goodies!
A trip out to the Big Apple brings you closer to some of the most lavish and luxurious brands out there, with big names such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Estée Lauder, Tiffany & Co and Micheal Kors all based in New York City.
Take a stroll down the famous Fifth Avenue where you will pass many of Americas much loved department stores. Saks Fifth Avenue is a luxury American department store that puts products from some of the worlds top designers on sale with ten stories of cosmetics, clothes, perfume and more! But a shopping trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Macy’s store – one of Americas largest department stores. This retail giant offers up almost everything you could possibly want from kids toys and clothing to trending fashion and top tech. International visitors can also take advantage of a 10% discount. If you are lucky enough to visit New York in time for Thanksgiving, be sure to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – a national event with over 50+ million fans tuning in to watch each year.
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in New York during the Christmas season, as well as shopping, there are a few extra things not to miss:
- Get your skates on and head down to the ice rink at central park
- Join thousands of New Yorkers and tourists and watch the lighting event at the world famous Rockefeller centre
- or get yourself over to Macy’s Santaland (but don’t forget to make a reservation!)
The Christmas markets of Munich are an annual historic event with its first Christmas market taking place back in the 14th century. Since then, they have grown massively – expanding to over 20 different locations within Munich, making it one of Europe’s most popular destinations for festive shopping! Take part in workshops, enjoy live music, feast on the delicious Christmas treats and explore this beautiful city.
When it comes to Christmas markets, Europe and America are the places most talked about… but we shouldn’t forget that this is a celebration that takes place all over the world and places like Shanghai, Moscow and even Cape Town also take part in the festive celebrations.
Looking for a change of scenery? Enjoy all of the traditional celebrations like hot mulled wine/cider, toasted gingerbread and hot chocolate in the beautiful city of Shanghai. There are plenty of places you can go to in Shanghai to get those Christmassy feels. The Hilton Hotel and JW Marriott Shanghai take orders for traditional Christmas dinners so you can still tuck in to a roasted Christmas Turkey with all the trimmings!
The Hongqiao Flower Market in Minhang puts both real and artificial trees and wreaths on sale to the public as-well as some of the essential Christmas tree decorations. You will also find the Swedish megastore IKEA offering up mulled wine, cookies and other treats for the those hungry shoppers as Christmas draws closer.
In Moscow for Christmas? It’s going to be a cold one! Get your woolly hat, scarf and mittens on – with possible lows of -16 degrees, you are definitely going to need a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm you up. The annual “Journey into Christmas” is held in the Red Square with 38 Christmas ‘zones’ that hold more than 100 stalls.
One thing not to miss is the Christmas light installations in Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street. This magical display is the perfect place to spend the evening. Walk through the tunnel of Christmas lights and explore the festive illuminations!
Christmas eve in Cape Town pulls out all the stops. Enjoy Cape Town’s biggest, free open-air event – a spectacular laser, lights and firework display! Join thousands of Capetonians at the Adderley Street Christmas light switch on for the launch of the holiday season. If you happen to find yourself in South Africa during the holidays, why not celebrate Christmas on the beach? With temperatures reaching 25 degrees, relaxing on the beach might just be the best way to spend Christmas day!
Let us know
Have you spent Christmas somewhere wacky and wonderful? Leave a comment below and let us know the most obscure places you have celebrated this festive holiday.