Zubin Karkaria, CEO – VFS Global, and CEO – Kuoni Group, was appointed ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite’ (Knight of the National Order of Merit) by the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, last week. The prestigious French award was conferred on Karkaria by H.E. Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, on behalf of President Hollande, at a ceremony in Mumbai. Karkaria, who has been a part of the travel industry for more than 25 years, established visa processing multinational VFS Global in 2001. In 2015, he became the first Asian to head the Switzerland headquartered Kuoni Group, VFS Global’s parent company.
The distinction recognises his exemplary contributions in developing France as a tourist destination through leisure travel and the management of visa services across the world. Having pioneered the concept of visa process outsourcing in 2001 with the launch of VFS Global, Karkaria has contributed to the increased inbound tourism into France. VFS Global today serves the Government of France through 52 Visa Application Centres in 19 countries around the globe.
Speaking about Karkaria’s achievements, the Ambassador said, “France is proud to be the top global tourist destination, as well as a fast-growing destination for the Indian traveller. Over 5 lakh Indian visitors chose France last year and we want to welcome many more. It is an honour to confer the Ordre national du Mérite on Mr. Karkaria who played a stellar role in this success in conceiving the visa facilitation system and promoting France as a travel destination, thus contributing to developing people-to-people contacts between France and India.”
Commenting on the recognition, Karkaria said, “I have always believed in the enormous potential France has as a destination, and over the years, it has been my privilege to work with Atout France, France’s Tourism Development agency, and many other stakeholders from the travel fraternity in promoting and facilitating travel to this beautiful country.”